Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

“Body Parts”

3 stars.

Air date: 6/10/1996
Teleplay by Hans Beimler
Story by Louis P. DeSantis & Robert J. Bolivar
Directed by Avery Brooks

"If you try the trousers on first, you'll see I've added some extra padding to the seat ... which should make swiveling on your bar stool much more comfortable." — Garak to Morn

Review Text

Nutshell: A surprisingly decent Ferengi vehicle, and with an amiable subplot.

Well, it's the first one in a very long time, but "Body Parts" is a Ferengi episode that actually works. I guess it's a good indication that the season is going well when the writers can come up with a passable vehicle for Quark.

I'll admit it—I thought we were in really big trouble when I saw the lackluster and unfunny teaser where Quark reveals to Rom that he's been diagnosed with a terminal illness (the deadpan "I did this and that and, oh yeah, I'm dying" was just plain dumb and utterly predictable). Nor were my spirits raised with the absolutely typical reactions both Rom and Quark were making in the early acts concerning Quark's condition (Rom being seriously overstated and dreadfully overacted, and Quark being predictably stubborn). And then when Brunt (that obnoxious FCA guy played by Jeffrey Combs) showed up again, I was almost ready to shut down my brain for another Ferengi outing to go crashing-and-burning down along with the likes of "Family Business," "Prophet Motive," and "Bar Association."

But then a funny thing happened: The show came together and worked on its terms—even with its basic plot that can be summed up in one sentence. That sentence goes something like this: Quark is tricked into believing he has a terminal illness by Brunt, who buys Quark's remains in advance and then reveals to Quark that he's not going to die, forcing him to choose whether to kill himself to satisfy the contract's terms or to break the contract and live the rest of his life as a pathetic Ferengi outcast. The motivation for Brunt's actions aren't really important (he thinks Quark is a—gasp—philanthropist, and wants him destroyed, which strikes me as rather contrived motivation). What's important here is a decent character study for Quark—one of the few times the series actually uses the character in a semi-serious way.

The key words are "decent" and "semi-serious." While the show is an overall success, it isn't really anything approaching compelling or dramatic. And there is a lot of comic relief here—some of it's dumb, and some of it's effective. In any case it's enough to see that the show doesn't take itself all that seriously—which is fine for a comedy episode, but still worth mentioning in terms of comparing this installment to more serious shows.

Again, I found Brunt's presence and the Ferengi culture he represents less than interesting—I still think that analyzing a transparently greed-laden society is more often annoying and obvious than it is funny. Scenes like the one where Brunt is aghast when he learns Quark gives his workers—gasp again—vacation time seem as if they want to be funny based solely on the backward values Ferengi place on doing business at the expense of the individual. But enough already—the joke has been done so many times on DS9, and it was never that great a joke in the first place.

What I did find interesting in "Body Parts," however, was discovering that the show actually matters. Unlike most Ferengi shows, this one seems to have quite an impact on Quark, and a lasting impact at that. Usually, Quark is just a Ferengi caricature, spouting Rules of Acquisition and being greedy just because the guidelines the writers have set down for the Ferengi as a culture demands it. But this time, the writers address Quark's difference from the rest of Ferenginar. The twist here is the question: What if, despite how greedy and conniving Quark seems to humans, he is actually too generous and overly concerned with the well-being of his workers in the eyes of other Ferengi? And because of this difference he has to prove otherwise by killing himself—or live only as a disgrace to his people?

Despite all the comic mayhem the premise is milked for, this is not a lightweight issue. This requires some hard choices for Quark—and, for once, some tough consequences as well. Watching Quark go through his hardship is handled surprisingly well. While I may not like selfish Ferengi customs, it's quite clear that Quark, as a practicing Ferengi businessman, does. He wants to be successful and liked by his peers, but Brunt is determined to see to it otherwise.

So Quark considers killing himself so he can die with Ferengi businessman dignity—or, rather, in one of the season's best turns of comic inspiration, hiring Garak to do it for him (to which, for a rather brief and intriguing moment, Garak smiles ominously). This leads to two of the funniest scenes the series has done in months. First is the scene where Garak practices killing Quark in a holosuite simulation. (Garak: "How was that?" Quark: "No! Snapping vertebrae is out!") Second is the scene where Quark walks precariously into his darkened quarters expecting a surprise assassination. (This was great physical comedy that didn't wander too far into the realm of slapstick, and I was laughing hard.)

But when Quark has a bizarre dream involving Gint, the first Grand Nagus (who looks strikingly similar to his brother Rom), he realizes his life is not worth Brunt's price. This leads Quark to his decision to defy Brunt, accepting the stiff penalties that come with it—including complete loss of assets, exile from Ferenginar, and being forever forbidden to deal business with other Ferengi.

I particularly liked the show's ending. For once, there was no easy fix to the problem. Quark is faced with being completely ruined—period. He sits alone in his empty bar, which has been completely stripped of everything, furniture and all. The only assets he has are his friends—Sisko, Odo, Dax, Bashir, even Morn—who, to help him reopen his bar, donate furniture and supplies out of their own generosity. The final shot is a very reassuring turn of characterization. For once, Quark is actually speechless with gratitude, as if he understands generosity for the first time in his life. Reading into this, I'm hoping this will somewhat change his character's outlook. Being exiled from Ferenginar may cause him to be even more drawn into Federation values; and from now on, maybe he'll think twice before taking advantage of the people around him. That's the payoff of "Body Parts"—one I find quite respectable. Most Ferengi episodes don't even have a payoff, and it's nice to finally see one with some story and substance.

"Body Parts" also has a B-story in which pregnant Keiko O'Brien is injured in a Runabout mishap. As a result, Bashir is forced to perform an emergency medical procedure to save her baby. He has to move the baby to the only other womb available at the time of the accident: Major Kira. Bajoran anatomy complications dictates that Kira must carry the child to term.

I thought this worked quite well. Obviously, the only reason this part of the story even exists is because of Nana Visitor's pregnancy. But, implausibilities aside, I think the writers did the best they possibly could have under the circumstances. The characterizations are surprisingly absorbing, and handled well. There are possibilities here, too. Look for Kira to be viewing life in new ways, and experiencing a very intimate bond with the O'Briens. At the end of the show, Kira agrees to move in with the O'Briens, which makes for a rather fascinating family unit. And I thought the "Aunt Nerys" bit was, well, cute. I hope we see more of this, because it made for great character padding.

Bottom line: While the plot of "Body Parts" isn't the greatest and it takes a while to get going, it ultimately delivers on the character plane. Thumbs up.

Note: After viewing this episode, it came to my attention that many of the DS9 characters are outcasts among their own people. Quark has now been exiled, Worf stands alone against the Klingon empire, Odo is ostracized among Changelings for killing one of his own, Garak is exiled from Cardassia, Dukat is a rogue fighter flying around in a Klingon ship, and even Dax almost made a choice that would have resulted in her banishment from Trill. Most interesting. Perhaps the series is trying to say something about individuality and standing up for one's beliefs.

Previous episode: The Quickening
Next episode: Broken Link

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Comment Section

112 comments on this post

    I have to agree that this was probably one of the best Ferengi episodes in the run of the series except maybe Family Business, one of my favorites. The ending was surprisingly good even if it was very Capraesq. I half expected Quark to turn to Rom and say "Look Rom, everybody gave me stuff because I wouldn't kill my self"

    I thought your assesment of exiled or neary exiled characters through the season was interesting. I'v watched season 4 several times and never picked up on that. Its a testiment to the writers that they didn't go out of their way to point that out, good subtle story telling. Btw by the end of the season Odo is not just exiled from his people but from his true nature and oh you forgot Worfs brother Kern who was exiled like Odo, from him self.

    I really liked this episode. I have it 3.5 stars. I really liked the interaction with garak and the ending was a nice show of friendship

    It was also avery clever reworking of The Merchant of Venice. It is the Shakespearian Ferengi episode.

    Definitely the best Quark episode to date. I actually cared about the character for once, and though I admit I half-expected Quark to somehow have his cake and eat it too, I was surprised to see that it wasn't that easy.

    Not sure I understand the point of Quark's bar being stripped of everything. Presumably not all of that stuff would be the FCA's to take (surely they couldn't, for example, rip out the holosuites). As far as what Quark did own, wouldn't the donated material at the end of the episode have become Quark's immediately become subject to confiscation as well? Plus, after this episode, it wasn't long before we once again found Quark employing Ferengi and doing business with Ferengi.

    I thought voles were considered vermin (particularly by Quark, who has complained about them infesting his bar more than once), but here we hear of Quark closing a volebelly deal, suggesting they are a food commodity.

    @Anthony2816: I was wondering about that too. I expected Garak to follow through on his promise to "surprise" Quark after he decided to break his contract with Brunt but it was just like the whole subplot with Garak disappeared by the end of the episode without even a mention. I would have liked to have seen some kind of subtle nod between Quark and Garak that killing him (Quark) was off- though I'm sure that Garak eventually figured it out that Quark had called the plan off when his bar was sacked by the FCA and, well, Garak is smart enough to not want to be open about their plan.

    I also like the bit about the Rules of Acquisition being all just a clever marketing ploy.

    I'm generally a fan of the Ferengi episodes, but agree with others this is a standout among them.

    There is a lot of silliness in this episode, but there's also a lot we learn about Quark. What I liked is the underlining that Quark - despite what we take as obnoxious behaviour - doesn't cheat because he's a bad person, but because he follows a set of rules in which he believes.

    And for once, it's nice to see other people and even Sisko being nice to him ! (which is incidentally sarcastic, knowing that they like him here for what they dislike him most: breaking a rule - ok, not a Federation rule, a Ferengi rule, but you get my point :P).
    I would have liked more continuity about that in the following episodes.

    On a sidenote, the writers don't really know what to do with Rom. In some episodes, he wants his brother dead (even tries to kill him); we see him not caring at all after Quark has been beaten savagely by Nausicaans but in this one, there's not even a hint that Quark's death is what Rom's being dreaming about for a long time.

    Oh jeez...a per chance routine doctors appointment happens to reveal a disease (okay so far) that strikes only 1 in 5,000,000 Ferengi (quite a stretch) and will just so happen to kill Quark within six days (ridiculous).

    So apparently we are to believe that had Quark not happened to visit the doctor while he happened to be on Feringinar, he would have suddenly dropped dead on DS9.

    Oh, but actually it was a misdiagnosis of a disease that rare and that deadly.

    and the reason to reject the second opinion from Bashir was ridiculous...we've seen Quark allow Bashir treat him before for myriad things.


    But did you like it? Did you enjoy the ep? Did it make you laugh? And how about that b-plot?

    In this day and age, it's hard to read about the teaser and not mentally hear the line read: "I got the results of the test back -- I definitely have Dorek Syndrome."

    This is a different Chris to the one above.

    To the commenters speculating on Garak's contract with Quark. I think you are taking it too seriously. I don't believe Garak ever had any intention to kill Quark. Why would he risk getting into trouble with his Federation/Bajoran hosts? To do Quark a favour? He doesn't seem motivated by money. He probably just went through the assassination scenarios for fun and suggesting he could kill Quark at any moment, again for fun. Am I the only one who thought this obvious?

    @Chris. I had the same thought. The notion that Garak would put himself in the position to be tried for murder is ridiculous. In addition to him being one of the first suspects Odo would question (especially if the murder was committed very well) Rom would have been a witness that would have no reason to keep Garak's part in it a secret. I think Garak was just having a bit of fun with Quark while he waited for cooler heads to prevail.

    Even if he was serious, just because we don't see Quark tell Garak that the deal was off, it is reasonable to assume that Quark would've done so the moment he decided to break the contract. He's not stupid.

    "But did you like it? Did you enjoy the ep? Did it make you laugh? And how about that b-plot? "

    Well, no, because such a string of convoluted contrivances totally lift you (or at least me) out of the story.

    @Kevin, LOL. I just saw your months-old comment now. I can totally see it. QUARK: "Everything goes wrong all at once. Nobody wants to help me. And I'm dying."

    I agree - a lot of silliness in this genuinely entertaining episode, Armin Shimmerman and Andrew J Robinson steal the show....

    A script with a lot of heart

    I got a kick out of how the opening shot of the station in "The Quickening" was a tight closeup rather than a reveal of the whole station, so they can't be accused of "Voyager rapid repair" after losing the pylon the previous week. The closing scene does it again.

    But here, the opening shows the whole station, looking pristine. Still pretty fast to have rebuilt it, considering that it's Cardassian architecture.

    Chris is is pretty absurd that a disease would kill within six days without producing any notable symptom before that. What does Dorek syndrome do?...trigger an event (perhaps a stroke...the way the death unfolds is of course never addressed by the episode) that is at the same time sudden, discoverable ahead of time by a physician, and yet unpreventable by said physician upon discovery. It is just a bit much.

    And...Brunt shows up almost immediately after Quark learns he really doesn't have Dorek's syndrome. We pretty much have to assume that Brunt was already in transit to DS9 when that news came. It seems to me that one can only conclude that the doctor had to purposely misdiagnose Quark for Brunt. The coincidence is too much (although, the whole episode is too much, so...). If so, the doctor is in on the fraud, and that, I think, should be enough to get Quark out of the contract.

    I think it's quite obvious Garak never intended to actually kill Quark nor did he think for a second that Quark actually wanted to go through with it (as he slyly remarks when they're doing the holosuits simulations... And then proceeds to tease telling him that "he won't know what hit him").

    I liked that episode, nice ending, very nice acting.

    Rule of Acquisition #17: A contract is a contract...but only between Ferengi".

    That seems like an awfully early number (17) to involve races beyond Ferenginar. Are the rules of acquisition newer than first contact with other races? They've always been presented as being much older than that.

    If you ignore the absurdity of how Trek thinks capitalism and contracts work (and how they portray the Ferengi), this is a pretty fun episode.

    ...though I'm sure that Garak eventually figured it out that Quark ...


    This is a work of fiction. Don't talk about it as if it is real. Address the writing and the writers, or it makes you look like an idiot.

    The reason Garak wasn't shown is the writers got lazy. The other gripe aside from those mentioned here, is that the contract would be null and void. What advanced society would keep a contract on a man who was misdiagnosed with a terminal illness?

    It's just laughable.

    Well, that was a jarring opening. I immediately care about Quark's predicament and the way they worked Nana Visitor's real-life pregnancy into the storyline was pretty creative. Keiko's scene with Kira was her best acting yet. And Brunt is still a loathsome stain. xD

    If this episode has any weakness it's that the pacing is a tad clunky, jumping back and forth between the A and B plots with little in the way of rhythm or transition. But Shimerman steals the entire show with his performance. The ending was inspiring without being maudlin, and I like the way Garak was used. An outstanding show.

    There's diseases/viruses/parasites in real life that can remain dormant and undetected until they activate or attack. So it's by no means a stretch of the imagination, especially seeing as Ferengi are physiologically different, that they would have potential for illnesses along those lines. Seems to me that Dorek Syndrome is one of those that remains dormant til activation and strikes hard afterwards. Also not all real life illnesses have visual symptoms. In this case it doesn't matter because Quark didn't have it anyway.

    The how and why of Brunt getting there is a non-issue as well. Perhaps he was in cahoots with the doctor that made the misdiagnosis? Maybe he found out what was going on by other means? Who cares? Obviously Brunt has been keeping track of Quark since "Bar Association" and very likely before that.

    Quark not wanting Bashirs second opinion wasn't a stretch either. The other times Bashir treated him was when he was physically attacked right there on the station. In this particular case, he was diagnosed on Feringinar by a doctor that right there in the dialogue stated he had more faith in because of shared Ferengi principles of money. I personally, in real life, would want another opinion, sure. But that's not Quark and this wasn't a stretch.

    I think contrivances are sought after where none exist when one doesn't like an episode.

    Speaking of which, I quite enjoyed it. I thought the change of familial situation for the O'briens and Kira was nicely handled and fun to watch. I don't understand how a baby that's obviously noticeable in size can just be transported into a new womb like that. But then I don't know much about Bajoran physiology. The transporter skill alone was probably pretty high for such a procedure, but it fits knowing what we know of Bashir.

    The Quark story was fantastic compared to most Ferengi episodes and the scenes with Quark/Garak and Quarks dream were highlights for me. In fact the overall execution was well done and it didn't have the over the top silliness for silliness sake that tends to make these episodes completely face-plant. Loved your review as usual, Jammer, though I actually did like the opening scene, too. (:

    Good stuff. Not stellar - just solid entertainment that had consequences for a few characters to boot.

    High end of 3 for me.

    Doesn't it bother anyone else that the FCA somehow has jurisdiction over a bar on a Federation station? This keeps happening in this show: "Family Business", "Bar association", but it doesn't make sense. It would be like the Chinese government coming in and closing down a grocery store in Canada, just because the owner is Chinese.

    ^ The point is that the Ferengi Alliance considers all Ferengi her citizens, subject to her laws, regardless of their place of residence and work. A bit like some states on Earth today will automatically revoke your citizenship if you obtain another, while others will never revoke that citizenship, no matter what ― once you're one of us, you'll always be one of us, even if you live on the other side of the planet and don't plan on ever returning.

    Since Ferengi citizens seem to take this very seriously and respect it, it follows that the Ferengi Commerce Authority maintains overall jurisdiction in financial/fiscal matters over all Ferengi everywhere, no matter what.

    And apparently the Bajorans respect this practice as well and somehow exempt Quark of taxation, and merely charge some form of fixed rent. Otherwise, Quark would be subject to double taxation, which I doubt he would have agreed to.

    So remember: Terek Nor/DS9 is a Cardassian-built, now Bajoran-owned, and partly Federation-operated space station ― with a Ferengi-leased bar, seemingly tax-exempted by the Bajoran authorities and subject only to FCA fiscal and labour law. But I'm betting the Cardassian tailor pays taxes to the Bajorans. Ahh, the intricacies of Alpha Quadrant dealings... ;)

    I'm not so sure it's that complicated. The FCA probably doesn't have jurisdiction, as such, over Quark's bar. Quark "consented" to have his assets taken, because messing with the FCA would cause him and his family huge problems. Think "extraordinary rendition".

    Also, we know the Federation lets Quark have a lease for free.

    I don't know about taxation. But it's possible that Bajor and the Federation treat DS-9 as a duty free zone (like an airport, for example)

    I think your review is spot on Jammer.

    Couple points.

    It was CLEAR to me that Brunt was in on this with the Doctor from the start. As soon as he showed up to the station and was revealed to be the "highest bidder" I knew this was his plan.

    I love to hear Quark talk about Ferengi "heaven" :-)

    "QUARK: Yes. And when I arrive at the gates of the Divine Treasury, the Registrar will accept my bribe and usher me inside."

    ...and of course Brunt played by Combs is great as well. I cracked up at this line:

    "BRUNT: What I want is fifty two disks of vacuum-desiccated Quark. Nothing more, nothing less. "


    When both these great actors play off each other it really is a treat.

    And once again, Garak's mere presence adds to this episode. I ROARED when Garak was demonstrating different methods of murder to Quark. They could have had an interaction between Quark and Garak after he decided he wasn’t going to go through with it, but I think just having Garak smile in the background when Quark tells Brunt he’s going to break the contract would have been sufficient.

    Very interesting “B” story as well. Glad they figured out a way to keep Nanna. It’s my understanding that many times if a cast member gets pregnant in TV, they kill off the part.

    I also agree; the ending made this episode. For a couple reasons. Quark now realizes his customers are assets, and more importantly he just might be coming to the realization that he IS a community leader as Sisko bribed him into becoming in ‘Emissary’.

    The best “Ferengi” episode yet.

    3.5 stars from me.

    "Glad they figured out a way to keep Nanna. It’s my understanding that many times if a cast member gets pregnant in TV, they kill off the part."

    In Star Trek they tend to just give them a giant overcoat and stick them behind a desk (see Torres and Crusher).

    I am glad we didn't have to see what random overcoat thing they would have given Kira though :P

    I actually liked Body Parts and Little Green Men. I haven't warmed up to Quark since his greed almost got Dax killed in Season 2.

    Over the years, I have come to appreciate the Ferengi episodes. Anyway, this one is lovely, with the end coming straight out of "It's a Wonderful Life."

    "FCA somehow has jurisdiction over a bar on a Federation station"

    Quark probably has all of his assets not currently on the station in Ferengi assets (banks, stock funds, or whatever). You might also believe that his Ferengi employee salaries somehow go through Ferenginar. Just as the Obama administration has enforced US laws on overseas banks that use dollars (leading to large disagreements with US allies), the Ferengi could claim that Quark's accounts give them the right to enforce all sorts of laws on his financial activities.

    Quark could likely shield his station-based assets (like his furniture) if he renounced his citizenship, but that would likely cause problems for his family back home, as 2piix pointed out. Regardless, his accounts on Ferengenar being confiscated would have been a far bigger financial loss than whatever they took from the bar.

    I mean, not to say that the plot isn't silly (it is), but Quark says his doctor gave him his *annual insurance physical* on Ferenginar; it is clearly a regular exam and so it is not a coincidence that Quark visited his doctor at all. It is also very clear that Brunt set the whole thing up. I don't know if the doctor was actually in on it, or Brunt had a diagnostic system hacked into or some such. But actually, I don't think these details matter. Quark obviously expects that he will not have to go through with the contract he signed with Brunt, and the impression we are given is that under normal circumstances, not even Ferengi would expect a person would kill themselves to honour a contract. Quark is shocked and confused by Brunt's actions. As far as I can tell, though, the point is that the FCA is sufficiently powerful that Brunt can, with enough even mild legal maneuvering room, insist on the contract to the point that Quark's breach of contract would *still be sufficient to prosecute him* and bar him from Ferengi society. Now, one element of this episode missing is that I think Quark really *should have* attempted to contact the Nagus to at least try to advocate on his behalf, or to bribe some other FCA official. But the key thing for me is that Brunt is an extremely successful functionary who has enough clout to be able to seize Quark's assets if he has any cause at all, and Brunt is presumably powerful, wealthy and well-connected enough that Quark would never be able to fight him -- imagine the legal fees required to go against the FCA! Moreover, if Quark fights the FCA's decision Brunt can air Quark's dirty laundry -- Ishka earning profit, Rom's union and Quark settling with it. That Brunt would go to such lengths for purely personal reasons is of course very silly...but I *suspect* that (like, say, Eddington, or any other ideologue in this show) Brunt genuinely believes what he says about Quark being a festering disease on the lobe of the Ferengi Alliance which needs to be cut off, and that the Ferengi will be stronger for making an example out of Quark, who as a businessman on a fairly significant port (near the wormhole) is prominent enough for people to be aware of him but not powerful enough to fight Brunt at all. I think Brunt's claim that his attack on Quark is "personal" is then partly true -- it is personal in that Brunt is willing to spend his resources to make Ferengi society better, which in turn will allow Brunt to feel more secure that his society will allow him to profit.

    Now, that Ferengi contracts are so fundamental to their society that breaking a contract is cause for exile, even when going through with the contract would mean one's death, would be ridiculous if it weren't that this is the same season where Kurn could only enter Sto-Vo-Kor by ritual assisted suicide because chancellor decree stripped his family of honour because of what Worf did, or where Bajorans as a whole seemed on the verge of reinstituting a caste system based on family birth because a religious icon told them to, to the point where the station's Vedek pushed a guy to his death for disrespecting him. The contract having a sacred value in Ferengi society makes perfect sense when Ferengi society eliminates the concept of honesty and fairness as necessary qualities for negotiations and currency exchange; with a society of people out to cheat each other, everything would collapse without fundamental lines that *cannot* be crossed, and having the contract as unbreakable allows the society to *otherwise* allow for all manner of self-interest. If there is a throughline to the season, it may be an examination of what the basic, underlying values are of each of the societies, examined in turn, and examined via what their Ultimate Crimes are; Dukat violates Cardassian rules about illegitimate children, Dax almost violates the Trill taboo on reassociation, Odo was the first changeling to harm another, the Jem'Hadar in "To the Death" emphasize disloyalty to the Founders as the gravest sin, there's Worf's family dishonour, and there's Leyton's attempted takeover of the Earth as a violation of fundamental cardinal rules for the Federation of democracy. This is Quark's turn, and Brunt is playing for keeps.

    Brunt's presence in this episode largely did work for me by turning a problem in "Family Business" and "Bar Association" into something of a virtue. Quark basically folded in both episodes, but found a way to maintain the appearance of giving in. The same can basically be said of "Rules of Acquisition" as well, where Quark found a way to blackmail Zek into letting Pel go away unscathed. Now for Quark to be able to get away with this once or twice is one thing, but at some point he either has to stick to his guns and be a True Ferengi, whatever that means, or recognize that there is something rotten in what the Ferengi Establishment expects of him. Brunt forcing the issue has the benefit of making Brunt seem less stupid, suggesting that he did not "fall for" Quark's transparent actions in "FB" and "BA" but, I guess, wanted to see how things played out.

    What is great is that the early segments of the episode do basically establish that Quark does view himself and his life largely in Ferengi dominant cultural terms: Quark is upset that he is dying, yes, but what depresses him above all that is that he is dying in debt, a small-time operator who never managed to successfully bring his life together. That he has the chance to end his life as A Success in Ferengi terms is the bait which Brunt uses to snatch Quark up...which means that Brunt maybe recognized that Quark fundamentally *does* want to be a Ferengi success. That Quark may die but that he will die with more assets than losses is a consolation -- and this starts to get at the reason for these values. The reason Ferengi Rules of Acquisition matter so much to Quark is not so much that he likes getting and having things, though Quark certainly does genuinely enjoy the thrill of a successful deal. But ultimately like all pleasures, it is temporary, and at some point Quark will die and be -- well, not dust, actually vacuum desiccated remains. What remains after death, or in the face of death, is Meaning, and Quark relies on the Rules of Acquisition to give his life meaning; he cares about the respect of Fellow Ferengi businessmen to "know" that his life was successful and worth it, and that is the thing that allows him to cope with the recognition that one day his life will be over.

    Whether it's entirely consistent with the Trek ethos from previous series or not, this series in general and this season in particular has brought in religion in a big way, and the thing that all the fundamental rules that cannot be violated have in common, actually, have something to do with death: Trill reassociation violates the sanctity of the death/rebirth system of joining, and the idea that life can go on but only if a hard line is drawn between this life and past ones; the Bajorans seek the way of the Prophets, Klingons want to go to Sto-Vo-Kor and worship artifacts like the Sword of Kahless, Ferengi to the Divine Treasury, and the Jem'Hadar (and Vorta) worship the Founders, and the Jem'Hadar rituals in particular involve the possibility of re-earning life through good works in battle. The quasi-religious is even represented in the secular characters, where Earth as "paradise" is repeatedly invoked so that the Sisko/Leyton conflict (and later Eddington's Lucifer complex) are framed in terms of a battle to protect or undermine a kind of secular heaven on earth Earth in the present, and the Great Link remains just out of reach as the place where Odo stops being one and becomes part of many, the concept of heaven as death/life reexamined. Jake in "The Visitor" is obsessed with reuniting with his "dead" father who continues living on in some sort of Other Dimension and is willing to die for it; Bashir accuses the Teplans of worshiping death and their ritual death forms the backbone of their culture; Garak "lives in hope" that those probably-killed members of the Obsidian Order attack still exist ("Broken Link"); O'Brien ponders death as the possibility of escape from himself in "Hard Time." Belief and death are strongly linked, and the season reexamines over and over what it is that people will die for, what they hope to have after death, and what beliefs keep them alive.

    So when Brunt forces Quark to choose between his life and his death, what he is really asking of Quark is to choose between how much Quark loves life, and how much stock Quark puts in the beliefs which provide him some sort of shielding from the reality of death. Quark is ecstatic at the possibility of living again, and Quark's genuine joie de vivre returns. Let's note here that while it's true Quark probably can sue the doctor for malpractice, Quark pretty immediately forgets about his concern that he was a failure as a Ferengi once he is reassured that he will continue living -- it was only when he thought that his life was over, and that he has to justify how he has lived, that he became maudlin about his life as is. Like anyone, Quark has some bad days and bad periods where things seem intractable, but mostly he is happy to be busy, happy when he gets a deal, happy to spend time with his friends and his idiot brother whom he very clearly in this episode loves. (I said "in this episode"; while the same contempt is here for Rom, I like that the episode avoids focusing on the conflict and does depict the genuine affection Quark has for Rom, and vice versa, in a nicely understated way.) And so Quark now has something like the options presented to Ekoria in The Quickening: do you choose a comfortable death, or an uncomfortable life? The discomfort here that Quark has as he lives is not minor; not only does he have his worldly possessions stripped away and does he have contact with other Ferengi revoked, but he has the security of "knowing" that he is a success by a socially accepted definition removed, which means that when he dies, or falls on hard times, he may not even know what to strive for or what to reach for. With an overbearing, mostly unloving mother, it's not a surprise to me that Quark largely allows the *meaning* in his life to be defined by social constructs, the Rules of Acquisition, and so on, rather than relying on some sort of "soft-hearted" conception of people, including himself, as intrinsically worth something.

    But he does want to live. Part of the point of the very funny scenes of hiring Garak to kill him, then being squeamish about the various assassination methods, and then the OMINOUS MUSIC shot of the station followed by Quark running around terrified, is that Quark really does want some sort of out from his predicament and his desire to die is far eclipsed by his desire to live. (I will note in passing that I think Garak was mostly playing with Quark, and maybe even as a sort-of-friend pointing out to Quark that he does not want to die, because I don't see Garak actually killing Quark for no particular reason and getting in trouble because of it. It's not the same as killing someone for a greater cause, which I absolutely think Garak would do. I am not really positive about this though, and it's a weakness of the episode that it puts Garak in this super-weird position and then doesn't even bother having Quark call him off.) The dream sequence has its moments, but I do think it's mostly one of the weaker scenes in the episode's main plot; Max Grodenchik is amusing as Gint-Rom to some degree, but by having Gint-Rom spell out explicitly that it's stupid to die for a set of suggestions which mistake the spirit behind the rules for the rules itself takes Quark off the hook for being able to get to this realization himself. I think that it also obscures what I think is a bigger point here: the Rules of Acquisition are given the reverence they are because it is EASIER (at least for most) to follow a set of RULES than to be able to intuit the true meaning behind them. The Ferengi philosophy, such as it is, seems to be a matter of self-interest which manifests as a genuine desire to have a good life, with the assumption that if all people put their all into achieving something for themselves, society will be a good and happy place, which people like Brunt, who are petty and vengeful, twist into cruelty. It is not my philosophy -- self-interest is good, but not to the extremes Ferengi take it -- but I can see some good in it. And I think the idea here is that the rules are there to make people's lives better, as opposed to people being there to follow the rules. For Quark to realize that he does not need the "respect of his peers" and does not need to be a success on Ferengi terms to be alive -- and that he may well, some day, die a "failure", but that it is better to live as good a life as he can until then -- is in some senses quite profound, and goes to the heart of what this season is about.

    And that I think is what we have seen from Quark in those previous episodes; I think "Family Business" and "Bar Association" were pretty bad, but basically Quark in those episodes and "RoA" recognized that happiness and success were more important than Ferengi laws, and that his default position is to agree with Ferengi culture does not mean that he was unwilling to bend to find the solution that kept him basically successful and allowed him to work with others. But no more half-measures; here he actually has to sever ties with Ferenginar. The very ending, the "It's a Wonderful Life" moment, is cute, though it somewhat undermines the depth of what Quark sacrificed in order to buy his life back, and that Quark really would rather be "a failure" on Ferengi terms and alive than successful and dead means a bit less when we immediately see him back to being a moderate success. I also think that by having Quark not talk to any of Dax/Bashir/Sisko over the course of the episode the episodes does not do too much set-up for it, which is mostly okay -- we can rely on the series as a whole; and Quark *did* start the episode by small-mindedly dismissing what Bashir could know since he does not even charge. I admit that I would have *loved* for Garak to drop off some cups and say "I was going to let you drink from this earlier, but I see that will no longer be necessary" or something, with the implication that he is giving Quark a gift that would have been a murder weapon.

    So overall, yeah, I am a fan of the main plot, which is at times goofy but I think is written and acted well, with Shimerman being and having a blast. Then there is that subplot. As a workaround for Nana Visitor's pregnancy, it's not a bad SF idea, and is a logical extension of surrogacy. The "I can't move the baby again because Bajorans have a whole network of connections to their baby in a day!" was probably unnecessary (simply saying "it's a wonder the baby survived the transfer the first time at this stage in the pregnancy, and I wouldn't risk it again" would have been sufficient). Anyway, the plot does suffer from, after a season of mostly sidelining Kira and her POV, once again completely ignoring what Kira actually thinks of this major event which will significantly change the next couple months of her life. The episode starts purely in Miles' POV, then extends to Keiko, but besides a few scenes where Kira awkwardly talks to Keiko (and Miles), we don't get anything on what it's like to suddenly be someone's surrogate and to have a pretty large fetus suddenly inserted into your body, not even from zygote stage but a few months in. That Kira moves in with the O'Briens is another one of those things that we really should have gotten her perspective on. Pretty annoying.

    Oh well, I really like the main plot, despite its flaws, even if the subplot mostly bothers me. A mid to high 3 stars.

    'Body Parts', in which Quark loses everything but finds the most unexpected asset of all - friends. I suppose that at least this way the reset button isn't fully applied and we are left with an episode that actually means something to Quark's character. Garak's glee in being asked to assassinate Quark is a highlight, culminating in the marvellous holosuite scene.

    But really this feels like an episode in search of a conclusion - it's obvious Quark is not going to die and really we are just sitting around waiting to see how that is resolved, which is mildly diverting rather than riveting.

    The B-story is an interesting twist on the actor pregnancy conundrum, but again not exactly riveting. 2 stars.

    Like Jammer I was ready to hate this episode based on how it began. We start with O'Brien, Dax and Worf talking about how Keiko insisted on going on a questionable trip to the Gamma Quadrant for some botanical exploration, even though she's very much pregnant. O'Brien can't believe that she wants to do such hazardous things, like also rappelling down cliffs on Bajor, and feels he has to remind her that she's pregnant. To which, and here is where I started to get worried, Dax responds with "yeah, I guess the extra weight, the morning sickness, the mood swings, the medical examinations, they aren't reminders enough." *sigh* Well, Dax, given that she wants to go fucking rappelling, I'd say they aren't enough! And, oh yeah, maybe if Keiko had listened to all those things like extra weight, morning sickness and mood swings, she wouldn't have fucking lost her baby! But, just stick your nose a little higher in the air there, Jadzia! *sigh*

    Of course, that's all quickly (and thankfully) forgotten about when the A-plot kicks in. Hmm, so we have an episode with one plot involving a terminal illness, a possible need to kill oneself to satisfy societal norms and rejection of one's closest held beliefs and another plot which could basically be summarized as a sit-com version of "OMG, my office-mate is having my baby!". Which one is played for laughs? Well, the one about terminal illness and potential suicide, of course! All kidding aside, though, this is - surprise, surprise - a very well done Ferengi episode. I certainly did not think I would say that so soon after the abysmally bad "Bar Association". But, the reason is that, unlike "Bar Association" and virtually all other Ferengi episodes, "Body Parts" - GASP! - treats Quark (and by extension Ferengi society) with actual respect. While there are comedic elements present, they don't consist of unfunny stuff like ear picking and insect eating. And this is a serious issue that Quark has to face, and the episode manages to pull off that seriousness while still offering some legitimate laughs (like Rom saying the Nagus just uses Quark when it suits his purposes).

    One thing I particularly liked about it was that it, in some ways, is the story of a man turning his back on his religion. The scene where Quark dreams that he's in the Divine Treasury I think shows that most clearly. Here Quark is dreaming about what he believes is the afterlife and yet comes away from it convinced and determined to walk away from the tradition and practices that that afterlife entail. Even as someone who has vigorously defended religion against Trek numerous times, I really enjoyed this. Mostly because it's a story about a man choosing individuality and his own well being over social convention which never once devolves into anti-theistic territory. There is no condemnation of religion even though Quark is essentially choosing to walk away from it. If only more "anti"-religion episodes could be like this. One person decides to not follow his lifelong beliefs anymore - I'm perfectly fine with that. Live and let live and all that good stuff.

    If there is one problem with the A-plot it's how Brunt ultimately harms Quark in the end. How exactly was he able to leave him in utter destitution? Quark's bar, most of his property and (I would assume) most of his financial assets, are in Bajoran territory (and on a Federation-run space station). Brunt has no legal authority on DS9. I could see him stripping Quark of all he has back on Ferenginar (like any accounts he keeps on the planet instead of on the station or on Bajor). But stripping him of all his property (right down to the shirt on his back) on DS9, I doubt it. Would Sisko honestly let something like this happen? He's already shown a willingness to put Federation/Bajoran values ahead of Ferengi ones when it comes to business conducted on the station. So I have a hard time believing that Brunt would have been able to get away with literally stripping the bar clean like he does. However, having that happen led directly to one of the most touching scenes "Deep Space Nine" has given us to date - all the other characters helping Quark out of their own generosity. That moment has such a wonderful "It's a Wonderful Life" feel to it that I'm willing to forgive the questionable set-up. Dang ol' Quark, richest man in the world and he didn't even know it. :-)

    As for the B-plot about Kira playing surrogate mother to the O'Brien's baby - well, it was pleasant enough for what it was. Obviously the only reason it even exists is because Visitor was actually pregnant and they needed a way to explain it. I'm glad they decided to give us some explanation instead of just shooting the actress in ways to hide the pregnancy (like they did with Gates McFadden and Roxann Dawson). It provides some nice moments (aside from the cringe-worthy opening with Dax) and opens up some nice avenues for character growth from Kira, O'Brien and Keiko. It's nowhere near as compelling as the A-plot, but it's enjoyable.


    I liked the ending of this episode. It was sweet, which is unusual. I thought Armin Shimerman's acting was superb throughout. But . . . there were so many plotholes.

    What will happen to Quark's mother? Will she be homeless now, as was threatened?

    Why doesn't Quark have assets in a Swiss bank account?

    What happens to Rom, since all of the assets of Quark's entire family will be seized? What about Nog?

    How can an entire civilization survive with no concept of enlightened self-interest?

    Even with the donations, how can Quark make a go of his bar with only 8 bottles of bad brandy? He has no capital to replenish his stock.

    Will his Ferengi employees continue to work for him? If they do, what will happen to their families?

    As usual, I hated every moment with Keiko and Molly on screen. I cannot stand Keiko's sniveling. And Molly is entirely without personality. There's a scene where she's sitting on a couch holding a toy staring blankly straight ahead. Why? She seems like a serial killer in the making.

    If you go to 11min 55sec, you can see the "Emissary" makeup job of Quark on the screen! Nice Easter Egg.

    "It took me my whole life...but I'm gonna die a winner!" There is something sad and sweet in the tone that recalls "Death of a Salesman" for me. Brunt's determination reminds me of Shilock's pound of flesh in "The Merchant of Venice."

    Best line: "I can't start a bar with a case of brandy and ... *ugly*glasses*."

    Considering humanity is about to conduct it's first head transplant, I bet a fetal transplant isn't very implausible especially by the 24th century.

    You know, for as much shit as people like to give Ferengi episodes they should really watch ones like this. Rewatched this again Saturday night and it's really good. Brunt is actually menacing for once, and doesn't just appear in Quark's closet which would have ruined the gag.

    I honestly believe that once Garak told Quark he was going to surprise him and "you'll never know it's coming" he had decided he wasn't going to assassinate Quark at all. Especially since he could most likely tell from all those holo simulations that Quark really didn't want to die anyhow.

    @Del_Duio - The fact is that Ferengi episodes are, for the most part, entirely garbage (exception being "The Magnificent Ferengi"). By that I mean episodes that are largely about Ferengi society.

    On the other hand... the episodes that use Ferengi society as a backdrop to tell a story about Quark, Rom or Nog are often hidden gems. Obviously some people's mileage may vary and find them all insufferable, but the actors are good enough that when the focus is on the character drama (instead of something broader) it actually tends to work quite well.

    Examples of those broader "Ferengi society comedies" that tend to fail are "False Profits", "Ferengi Love Songs" and "Profit and Lace". I know most of them pretend to have a dramatic center (Quark/Ishka's relationship) but they mostly fail.

    Better Quark centered fare would be "Bar Association" and "Body Parts". I think "Magnificent Ferengi" was the one time they actually managed a funny Ferengi comedy, but considering how many times they tried (all the way back to TNG and dreck like "Menage a Troi" it's clear that it was a fluke.

    And then there was "The Emperor's New Cloak" ::shudder::

    Also, "The Nagus" is quite good and functions as something of both a Quark piece and a Ferengi comedy generally -- partly because it's really something of a mafia comedy, which turns out to be a genre that is for whatever reason easier to work within for the show. I tend to like "Rules of Acquisition" as a drama, as well, which I think is generally underrated, though I don't think it's particularly funny.

    I actually prefer to think that most Ferengi episodes are pretty good, with a few outlying bad episodes like "Profit and Lace". Shows like "The Nagus", "Rules of Acquisition", "The House of Quark", and many others are among my favorites from this series.

    What I like about this episode is that Quark gets a sort of crisis of faith about his Ferengi values, by that following them to the letter will actually end his life. It's actually pretty insightful about how unfair contracts used to be in our own society a few centuries back (and presumably today if you look at some mortgage loan contracts).

    But the resolution is also great, because Quark doesn't renounce Ferengi values, his vision/dream inspired him to realize perhaps a deeper and truer meaning behind the rules of acquisition. And despite it being a dream sequence, it's pretty plausible that the RoA were originally just a commercial business philosophy that gained huge popularity on Ferenginar.

    So yes, I would echo the sentiments of this being a great episode, and that viewers try to look past the bumbling Ferengi in their shows because of interesting stories like this one.

    I don't know who is responsible for making the Ferengi what they ended up being, but they should be punished. By all accounts a race of cutthroat industrialists should indeed be a horror-show, and this episode vaguely touches on what their culture should be like in its classical allusion with the pound of flesh. Instead all of their darker traits are presented as silly and cute: 'how quaint, they are backwards about everything!' which not only undermines the value of their presence but also the value in showing how dangerous their mentality is. Many people (even on this forum) object to Federation values and all but call humans of the future dirty communists. The Ferengi would have been a good counterpoint to show what the alternative is of an unregulated economic system in the future.

    The faint glimpses we get of good arguments *for* pure market economy, as we occasionally get from Nog later in the series, would have been a good way to add shades of grey to what seems at first glance to be a heartless culture. But instead Nog's points come off as more of a condemnation of the 'fake' Federation 'economy' rather than as a way to mitigate how bad Ferengi society is.

    What a shame.

    "The Nagus" was fairly good for a S1 episode, but I find it lost something on repeat viewings for me because Rom's characterization is totally off.

    "Rules of Acquisition" is another excellent Quark character piece with Ferengi society in the background. The drama comes from the characters themselves, not "Ferengi values" even though that's the core problem. I should have mentioned this one in my post, it's excellent (and one of Trek's better "hour long romances" to boot).

    "The House of Quark" works well also, but is largely a Klingon comedy with Quark's character in the center.

    @ Robert,

    "House of Quark" is one of my favorite episodes of the series, in part precisely because it treats Quark seriously as a business man and shows what ensues when a financier tries to help people in a warrior culture. If one jot of 'silly Ferengi values' had shown its face the quality of the episode would have suffered for it.

    @Peter - Agreed. It flips the TNG established Klingons good, Ferengi bad on it's head and makes Quark brave and honorable in a way and his Klingon adversary not. But in the end Quark's bravery goes hand in hand with his business acumen to really sell the whole thing, with the scene where all the high council are trying to follow his math being the masterful punchline of the entire episode.

    But you're right, it wouldn't have worked if the comedy tried to play Ferengi values and Klingon values as a joke. And of course the fact that Grilka is a well rounded character, well acted and had good chemistry with Quark rounds the episode out in a nice way.

    I am for sure a "Niner" as my post history can likely attest to, but comedy on DS9 so seldom worked. There are a few notable exceptions, and this one of them.

    That said, I'm not so sure comedy really worked on TNG either.

    "Note: After viewing this episode, it came to my attention that many of the DS9 characters are outcasts among their own people. Quark has now been exiled, Worf stands alone against the Klingon empire, Odo is ostracized among Changelings for killing one of his own, Garak is exiled from Cardassia, Dukat is a rogue fighter flying around in a Klingon ship, and even Dax almost made a choice that would have resulted in her banishment from Trill. Most interesting. Perhaps the series is trying to say something about individuality and standing up for one's beliefs."

    Astute observation.

    Like the "It's a Wonderful Life" ending on this one. :)

    I hate how the writers tease us with the possibility that something bad has happened to Keiko (sweet release for us and poor O'Brien) then whiplash us back to reveal that not only is she OK, but she's weaseled her way out of the pregnancy and now poor Kira has to carry her second evil spawn to term (ref: @Quarkissnyder's spot on comment about Molly, the future serial killer).

    The Quark stuff is awesome as always thanks to Armin Shimerman's portrayal.

    Mon, Sep 5, 2016, 2:50pm (UTC -6)
    Considering humanity is about to conduct it's first head transplant, I bet a fetal transplant isn't very implausible especially by the 24th century.

    A fetal transplant to a completely different species? Just what crack pipe are you smoking from? Science called... It doesn't work that way. Why the writers did it is beyond me. Probably just scraping the barrel.

    As for what people are saying regarding Keiko and Molly, oh, how I agree. I cannot stand them. Can't abide them! Keiko is an insufferable feminazi, who browbeats the hapless Chief into submission at every opportunity (and the actress seems to me to be playing herself), and Molly stares blankly ahead like she has no soul speaking in a deranged monotone voice (O - K - Mo -mmy!").

    If Chucky saw Molly, he'd leg it.

    And, on a serious note, I find that kids like Molly (because it's not her fault she's behaving this way) are the result of poor parenting; a lack of love or parental contact especially. No kid should be behaving in that manner if they've been brought up right and don't have some medical issue, like autism.

    An examination of Quark's character in the guise of comedy because Ferengi society is so utterly stupid -- I struggled to find anything that wasn't trite, cliche, or inane in this episode to be a strong point. Not the worst Ferengi episode but still one that I didn't like. The B-plot with Kira pregnant with the O'Briens' baby, while clever for the series, was just kind of there -- some nice moments but nothing special.

    Starts off with too much Quark/Rom stupidity -- it's not funny to see Rom act like an idiot and Quark scheme and berate him. What is more interesting is how Quark sees himself as a businessman first and foremost and the code that he must live by (however ridiculous the code is). That he's the victim of Brunt's scheme is also fine (characteristically Ferengi). But stuff like selling his corpse -- I just have to shake my head (I assume Brunt knew Quark would do this with his body -- as it must be a stupid Ferengi thing). And whatever came of Quark suing the Ferengi doctor for malpractice?

    So Quark is accused of being a philanthropist by Brunt -- all of this to show how he's not living up to the idiotic standards of a Ferengi businessman. Is this supposed to be relevant somehow? Hard to care about this at all.

    Getting Garak involved did add some genuine humor, but the premise underlying it is too ridiculous.

    The dream was also more silliness -- so Quark questions his faith, the RofA are a marketing ploy and he breaks his contract. Does Quark really change in some way after this? The epilogue is too short although it was nice to see him realize his friends are his assets and that they pitched in to get his bar up and running.

    1.5 stars for "Body Parts" -- good idea to have a secondary character go through a self-examination and of his faith, but it falls apart when you can't take it seriously as it's the Ferengi. "Gates of the Divine Treasury" and giving a bribe to get in -- the whole thing is a joke. Brunt is a cartoon character, as is Rom. I'm at odds with Jammer's review. I can see how DS9 has episodes where it doesn't take itself too seriously but the Ferengi culture is just too ridiculous to provide anything of substance.

    I disagree with Rahul about "Body Parts" because the episode doesn't ask us to take the Ferengi seriously. It asks us to take Quark seriously, and places itself in the capable hands of Armin Shimerman. As a result, the A-plot in "Body Parts" is downright fantastic. It's amusing, and provides us with terrific Garak/Quark interactions. The ending also provides one of the most affecting moments in the entire show. The B-plot is uncomfortable and generally terrible, but doesn't detract too much from the main plot.

    3.5 stars.


    No issue with anybody disagreeing with what I say but did you actually watch the episode and carefully consider it before awarding it 3.5 stars? I just noticed you post several reviews in sequence so I find it hard to believe you can seriously evaluate / rate an episode properly in such a manner (if you're going on some possibly distant memory of viewing the episode).

    The Garak/Quark bit was great -- but that on it's own doesn't make this a winner of an episode for me. All the Rom/Quark garbage counteracts that and then some in the overall experience of watching this episode.

    I could not disagree with you more in calling the A-plot in this episode "downright fantastic". And to say the B-plot is "generally terrible"? It's not even close to terrible -- mediocre certainly, but not terrible.

    I have seen DS9 a lot, I'm doing a re-watch currently, and I have a good memory. I can say with a large amount of certainty that I remember the episodes just fine. But I appreciate your concern.

    I noticed you review Trek episodes wildly out of order. I'm assuming that you're reviewing some Trek episodes based on memory, no? Otherwise, it would be sort of weird to go back and watch "Ties of Blood and Water", and the Maquis episodes after finishing the series.

    As to the score, respectfully, I think yours is far more outrageous. Did you actually watch the episode and carefully consider it before giving it a 3 out of 10?

    The 'downright fantastic' comment was in comparison to other Ferengi episodes. But others have given the episode positive reviews. Keith R.A. Decandido gave it an 8 out of 10, as did @Luke. That's their third highest rating, and would probably land the episode in the top 30 or 40 episodes of DS9. They feel that it just barely misses out on being a classic, which is what a low 3,5 star episode would be for me. @Yanks also gives it 3.5 stars. Even if mine is a little generous, and the episode deserves a high 3 stars instead, I don't think I'm that far off.

    First off, I HATE BRUNT'S GUTS!!!!!!! If I was a Ferengi I get him up on the Tower of Commerce, kick him as hard as I could and push him off, hope he is dead when he hits______and then I'd blame the Nagus because he is greedy, stupid jerk!!!!!!

    In spite of critics hatred for the Ferengi, I like these stories. The only one from TNG was when the crew became children and outwitted the trolls.

    At the end it was nice to see the DS9 personnel help out Quark after all they have been against him.

    Nana's baby. I did not understand why this ep was written until T V GUIDE, the old, 4x5 sized one wrote an interview with Nana. She and El Siddig (Bashir) had been an item, hot and heavy for a very long time. She went gaga over him from the moment they met. I will probably mess it up for you all but it wasn't nice. She had a husband and the way things went the husband in my opinion was made a damn fool of by his own friends so the two of them could be together behind his back. That was in T V Guide. Nana is Jewish and Siddig, whom everyone called Sid, is Muslim.

    So they do have their baby, they marry, but the bad part is that once DS9 is over, Hollywood will never allow him to be in their movies and such. The things that they control. Same with actors who are pure English, Scottish, etc., will never be given a job. Pour over Harvey Weinstein's lies about the young ladies he ruined as horrors. I wouldn't lose my soul over filthy sex with that horror or any other horror. If I resorted to murdering him, ok, when I died, whoever I had to stand in front of told me I was guilty. I'd tell him he was even guiltier because he allowed it to happen and did nothing. People think the god in the bible is noble, but he was everyone's nightmare as he wanted Earth as his own empire since he could never go back home and maybe take over from his father. And, they were not gods, they were homo sapiens.

    As for B'Lanna, if her pregnancy had been noted on the show, people in the viewing world would have protested that the show was putting whoredom on
    to make their kids wayward. Grow up and pay attention because the world is filled with brainless, uneducated things. Oh oh oh and worse for Crusher, she would have been doing every man on that ship...women in certain parts of your towns and cities are browbeaten to believe these kinds of malarky.

    I really liked this episode and would give it 3.5, I’m not afraid to admit I even got a tiny bit choked up at the end when Quark had all his assets taken away but learned “sisko, odo, bashir and jax are my assets”. Also the beginning reveal of kira being pregnant was funny. The show is clearly in on it being silly. This episode is top 5 of season four. I am learning to not pay attention to the scores given to ferengi and luxwana troi episodes. They seem to get automatic low scores

    Watching and commenting:

    --I love Shimerman. He is so great as Quark.

    --Rom almost has me convinced to buy a disk of vacuum-desiccated Quark for my own desk.

    --Kira is carrying O'Brien's baby!! Wow, that is some weirdness, there.

    --Brunt is kind of overdoing it with his loathing of Quark.

    --Garak is so creepy. Yet amusing. Yet creepy. Yet amusing. Robinson is great.

    --Some LOLs in this ep.

    --A sweet episode about family, and friends who become family, with Aunty Nerys and Brother Quark.

    My favorite Ferenghi episode to date.

    Teaser : **.5, 5%

    Miles is fretting about Keiko being on an away mission “in her condition,” because he's a dude and this is television. We've seen that he's a low-key sexist and racist already, so this is nothing unexpected. Dax is on hand to remind him that he's being an asshole, which is a novelty for her.

    Meanwhile, Quark is being weirdly affectionate and generous with his grease-monkey brother. He has been on Ferenginar for two weeks and is acting...exuberant. Even the mention of Suzy Orman can't quell his good mood. In truth he's burying the lede here—he blurts out to the assembled, “I'm dying!” The way Shimmerman plays this scene, it's clearly meant to be funny, but the chords of bad news are playing, so there's a bit of dissonance in the execution here.

    Act 1 : **.5, 18%

    The results of Quark's “annual insurance physical” (of course) revealed the presence of an incurable, erm...Dorks' Syndrome, is that it? His doctor (one of the most expensive on Ferenginar) gives him about a week to live. Like in “Bar Association,” the writers have chosen to tie together the Ferengi hat of unregulated capitalism with medical drama. And likewise, it's very uncomfortable in 2019 when we're up against the issue of capitalism disrupting healthcare. Quark's doctor is expensive, which of course means he's “good,” right? Quark makes a good living—this week anyway—so, he can afford better quality healthcare. I'd wager that Dr Bashir would actually provide better care than any of the doctors on Ferenginar, but that doesn't gel with Quark's ethos, does it? Julian doesn't charge his patients, so that's suspicious. I sort of buy this on an allegorical level, but not on a character one. Quark isn't an idiot. If he thinks he's going to die THIS WEEK, I'm pretty sure he'd get a second opinion from the doctor who has saved his life numerous times already on this show, even if he didn't agree with the man's economic ethics. But having Quark behave like something other than a cartoon would ruin the plot, so onward.

    So, Quark has all these debts he has to pay off before he dies. I gather that the reason a greed-driven society would instil such a moral framework into their people is because at some point, a Nagus realised that their absurd economy had to be regulated against entire generations defaulting. And how do you introduce moral strictures that are in conflict with the ethos of your society? Why, religion of course! It's kind of an exaggerated Catholicism; instead of purchasing indulgences from the church in order to absolve your mortal sin, you pay off your creditors in order to get into heaven, erm, the “Divine Treasury.” In order to accomplish this, Rom suggests selling his desiccated remains, like you do.

    QUARK: Who'd want to buy a disk of desiccated Quark? I'm nobody. Just some bartender with a domineering mother and an idiot brother.
    ROM: You anticipated the change of administrations here on the station.
    QUARK: And as a reward I'm inextricably linked to the Federation. I'm a joke on Ferenginar. Starfleet's favourite bartender. The Synthehol King. What a legacy.
    ROM: You're not a joke here. You're a respected businessman, a pillar of the community, a man with many friends.

    Meanwhile, the Volga has returned from the GQ, and it turns out Miles' incel-instincts were correct (great job, writers), as there has been some sort of accident requiring both Keiko and Kira to be sent directly to the Infirmary. So, we get the big reveal; Kira is now “housing” the O'Briens' baby. And if she's very lucky, she may be allowed more than 10 lines of dialogue this week.

    Act 2 : ***, 18%

    Bashir explains to Sisko and Miles the circumstances of this development; there was an accident involving asteroids and the good doctor had to move the foetus to another womb in order to save its life. The only options were Kira or—I don't know, putting Keiko in transporter suspension. Of course, this contrivance is all just a way to allow Nana Visitor to have her real-life baby bump on screen. One touch I actually liked quite a bit was Sisko, believe it or not. An exhausted Bashir casually explains the mad science that enabled him to make a Bajoran's womb viable for Miles' son and Sisko interjects, “But the bottom line is it worked, right?” He's a father, and he understands where Miles' head probably is right about now. But there's more—Kira has to carry the baby to term because of alien biological silliness.

    Meanwhile, Rom has been the only person to bid on Quark's remains and the result is one unusually existential Ferengi.

    QUARK: This has all been a mistake. My life, coming here, putting a bar on this Cardassian monstrosity of a station. What was I thinking?

    But then, there's an enormous bid on the remains from an anonymous, errr collector. Quark assumes it must be Zek. And without much deliberation or, you know, thinking about how weird this all is for more than half a moment, he accepts the offer and sells his corpse to Rich Anon.

    Kira visits Keiko in the Infirmary in what is probably the stand-out scene of the episode. Chao especially gives an incredible performance, blending the sorrow of what is essentially a woman forced to miscarry and the strange jealousy that accompanies surrogacy.

    While Quark is giving Rom instructions on how to disperse his “winnings,” Bashir pops by to deliver news. Quark's doctor contacted him to let him know that the infallible rich Ferengi quack made an oopsie—or so he claims—and that Quark does not have Dorks' Syndrome. Rom is elated, but Quark is borderline orgasmic. Now he gets to sue for malpractice!

    In the middle of the night, Quark is visited by three spirits...I mean he's visited by Jeffrey Combs, reprising the role of Blunt (FCA). He was of course the anonymous buyer, and he still wants his vacuum-sealed Quark, whether or not he's dying of Dorks' Disease.

    Act 3 : ***.5, 18%

    Quark tries to negotiate with Blunt, offering some latinum in exchange for his promised remains, but Blunt isn't having it. This obviously isn't about money for him, which is an irony I'll get back to. He's losing a large sum to Quark's creditors and probably Nog and Rom—probably—just to see that Quark dies, per his contract.

    BRUNT: This is not business, Quark. This is personal.
    QUARK: Why? What have I ever done to you?
    BRUNT: Done to me? And you call your brother an idiot? Nothing you've ever done to me has been more than a minor inconvenience. No. Protecting your mother from an FCA audit, and secretly settling with your striking employees were nothing more than symptoms of a vile and insidious weakness. A weakness that makes me loath you, not for what you've done but for who you are, what you are...a philanthropist.

    Weirdly enough, this reminds me of “The Last Outpost.”

    KAYRON: You see? They are demented. Their values are insane. You cannot believe the business opportunities they have destroyed.
    LETEK: Proof of their barbarism. They adorn themselves with gold, a despicable use of a valuable metal. And they shamelessly clothe their females.
    MORDOC: Inviting others to unclothe them. The very depth of perversion.

    Capitalism for the Ferengi is a cultural fetish. They frame it in terms that sync it up with “normal” cultural paradigms, like ethics, religion, tradition, etc. But fealty to these norms is so de riguer that a good Ferengi like Blunt will actually prioritise cultural purity over avarice—the so-called value for which the culture is supposed to serve as a justification. This furthers the theme I touched on regarding the Ferengi and the Klingons this season. The concepts which give structure to whatever innate or inherited or contrived values give each culture its hat are becoming commodified—simulacra, valuable only for their arbitrary purchasing power, innately worthless. Blunt is pulling this stunt, despite the fact that in principle, the notion of losing a profit in order to make a statement is against Ferengi principles, in order to stand up for Ferengi principles. Quite the house of cards.

    The only alternative for Quark to killing himself would be to break his contract which, according to Ferengi law, would leave him and his family destitute and isolated from their own people. No more insurance physicals.

    Miles is helping Keiko with her PT, which is unexpectedly sweet. She would like for them to spend more time with Kira—so as to be close to the baby.

    KEIKO: I know I'm being selfish. I should be grateful that my baby's alive and well, but I shouldn't have to make appointments to be with my own child. Miles, what are we going to do?
    O'BRIEN: I don't know.

    Kudos to the writers here—this baby plot is pretty whacky, but they are choosing to approach the topic in raw, human terms. Capturing forlorn ambivalence on screen is not easy, but they've done a pretty marvellous job, I think.

    While Rom is begging his brother to embrace what has become a family legacy at this point and defy Ferengi custom, Quark is paying a visit to Garak in his shop. He comes right out with it; he wants to hire Garak as an assassin. Robinson's facial expressions are pretty priceless in this scene, as he revives some of his old S1/2 obfuscatory habits. He isn't looking to –liquidate— Blunt however (yuk yuk yuk), he wants Garak to kill him. I thought this tale of pregnancy scares, terminal disease, and cultural pushback needed another element. I just didn't realise it was euthanasia.

    Act 4 : ***, 13% (short)

    Quark gives a little speech to his brother that, if you substituted “businessman” for “warrior, “Divine Treasury” for “Sto-vo-kor,” and “exploitation” for “honour,” you could honestly not tell the difference between it and typical Klingon bluster. Amusing stuff.

    There's a brief scene at the O'Briens where Kira is conscripted into their family. It's a little on the overly cute side, especially after the more probing scenes we got earlier, but I'm disposed to the concept: how about a threesome?

    We cut to the holosuite where Garak is going through his catalogue of murder techniques. Quark has ruled most of them out for various reasons.

    GARAK: For a man who wants to kill himself, you're strangely determined to live.

    Quark decides that he wants his murder to be a surprise—at least that's what he thinks he wants...we soon see that this arrangement has made it so that Quark is terribly paranoid. He has a dream—it's obviously a dream—where he has died and awoken in the Divine Treasury, an appropriately garish and obscene display of plastic opulence.

    Act 5 : ***.5, 18%

    Quark is greeted by uh, Peer Gynt? the first Grand Nagus, as portrayed by Max Grodénchik. Suddenly, I feel like I'm watching a really weird Muppets movie.

    GINT: Don't blame me for your limited imagination. Now, I'll make it simple. You have to break the contract with Brunt.
    QUARK: You got to be joking. You're Gint. You wrote the Rules of Acquisition. The sacred precepts upon which all Ferengi society is based. You of all people can't expect me to break them.
    GINT: Why not? They're just rules. They're written in a book, not carved in stone. And even if they were in stone, so what? A bunch of us just made them up.

    Uh-oh, someone hit the analogy button...

    QUARK: Are you saying they don't matter?
    GINT: Of course they matter. That's why they're a best-seller. But we're talking about your life here. The Rules are nothing but guideposts, suggestions.
    QUARK: Then why call them Rules?
    GINT: Would you buy a book called Suggestions of Acquisition? Doesn't quite have the same ring to it, does it?
    QUARK: You mean it was a marketing ploy?

    I'm not saying that the episode is suggesting that religions are designed they way they are because their founders used the same bullshit tactics as modern advertisers do to get you to buy pet insurance and Big Macs...but I'm not not saying it either. Nor am I objecting.

    And so, Quark returns Blunt's money and informs him he's breaking the contract. Blunt gloats, of course, but Quark gets the last word in, threatening to kill them man if he ever returns to the bar. He may be out of assets and his business license, but he's still got some Grrumba! However, it's a pyrrhic victory, as Quark is forced to close shop for ever.

    We close up the B-plot with Kira moving in. The O'Briens went to some effort to make her feel welcome and cutest-kid-in-the-galaxy Molly is there to sweeten the pot.

    The final scene, in which the entire cast and extras re-stock the bar under the pretence of looking for places to offload their junk is surprisingly effective.

    ROM: Look at them, brother. And you thought you had no assets.

    Episode as Functionary : ***, 10%

    For me, this is the first successful character piece for Quark since “The House of Quark,” nearly two seasons ago. It's everything “Sons of Mogh” should have been for Worf, had the writers not sabotaged the ending. Quark has always prided himself as the one member of his family who followed Ferengi traditions properly, despite being dragged into countercultural projects by his affection for them. Despite this status, he's a mediocrity by Ferengi standards. A genuine love for greed and selfishness is neither interesting nor especially realistic. I like very much that both Quark and Blunt are revealed to have more basic, human needs undergirding their actions. Quark craves community—that is probably why he chooses to run a bar despite being capable of greater profits in other businesses. He could easily have other business fronts for his illegal mafia dealings that didn't require so much socialising. Both he and Blunt are Ferengi fundamentalists at heart, but that social need is what keeps Quark from going over the edge. And the seeds he has sown amongst that community (or the “assets” if you want to be Ferengi about it) yield fruit in the final scene, which is why I think it's so effective. We will just gloss over the fact that Quark has almost gotten some of these people killed more than once and that Sisko had to bribe him to keep his business here.

    William B summarised the B plot nicely and I don't have much to add. I think it was as sensible as could be given the premise, and I really enjoyed the Keiko material throughout. I have to agree, however, that Kira continues to be shortchanged any insight into her own character and motivations, which is frustrating.

    Final Score : ***

    Nice review, Elliott, especially your notice of the religious allegory in the Ferengi fetishism. One thing we can draw from this, which you touch upon briefly, is that these different cultures as portrayed in DS9 (and TNG, I suppose) is that they do have one thing in common: they seem to need to have fealty *to something*. This is indeed a religious impulse, and it does seem only fitting that whatever 'the thing' is, it must be marketed correctly for people to buy it. Whether that's the Rules of Acquisition, or Klingon Honor, or duty to the Federation, or religion as we know it today; all of these seem to requite not just adherence but even zeal to thrive as they do in Trek. And Trek seems to also show us that people have a need to subscribe to something or other in order to find purpose. The Ferengi purpose of greed is (perhaps incorrectly) painted as being ridiculous, but the noteworthy thing is that greed does have one thing going for it: it's a purpose that's very dynamic, challenging, and takes a lifetime to pursue, even having the benefit of large and visible rewards.

    It's funny that this episode also puts together a baby story with the story about zeal vs fealty to custom. Presumably they were on a time crunch to get Visitor's baby into the picture, but even so, there is perhaps something to note about the importance of protecting a baby - even if another womb - when contrasted with that other sort of belief-laden life's purpose that can be found in religion or custom. A baby in itself has oft been thought of as a life's purpose, that ultimate goal of continuing the species, of celebrating life, etc etc. So maybe they picked a good one to shoehorn in the baby. Being more simple people, Keiko and Miles don't seem to type to pursue zeal in what we might call spiritual or intellectual arenas, and they don't even see to go in that much for ritual, the extent of their heritage seemingly being foods their parents served them growing up. But the episode does well to highlight that even for 'simpler people' there are still strong purposes that can be pursued that take huge focus and dedication. That Kira is drawn into that particular story is required by the cast reality, but perhaps it's interesting to note that for once Kira has to fight not for something far greater than herself, but - for the time being - actually much smaller than herself. There might have been something in that for her character to learn, SPOILER, had they chosen to go that route. That much is probably a waste.

    Thinking about the title. The literal read is that it refers to the parts of Quark's body which he sold to Brunt, and indirectly to the baby, transferred from one womb ("body part") to another. With Quark, Brunt is deliberately overvaluing the pieces of Quark over the whole of him, which I think tells us something of what's wrong with Ferengi values. Gint emphasizes that the Rules are important but are worth Quark's life, which is sort of a way of saying that the true "value" of the Ferengi philosophy is "supposed to be" self-interest, which is obviously corrupted if one values The Rules over one's obvious self interest (or the body parts over the living body). The B-plot seems to emphasize that the upsetting loss of the child from Keiko's body similarly is not as important as the lives of all involved, which are protected. And the end of the main plot has everyone in Quark's makeshift community reconstructing his empty bar with various "parts" from elsewhere, emphasizing that it's not the constituent elements themselves but the whole which makes something up (maybe).

    The ep's ending is an obvious It's A Wonderful Life reference (or When Flanders Failed) which is funny because of course Quark is emphatically not George us. To Brunt, he is. (A philanthropist!) IAWL similarly has an element where ultracapitalist Potter tells George that, because of his life insurance policy, George is worth more dead than alive.

    Perhaps there's also there notion built-in to the title that "body parts" is not what comprises an entire person, just as assets is not what comprises a person's wealth. The IAWL ending tells us that Quark's "assets" include, perhaps most importantly, his friends, and that valuing his life based on liquiditable assets is to undervalue what he is 'worth' as a person in the community. He is worth more than the sum of his assets, and that he might lose sight of this is one of the first times in Trek that a Ferengi problem is finally relatable to us. Valuing financial assets as if they comprise our self-worth is a characteristic American thing, and we might remember extreme examples of this with the suicides at the market crash leading to the Great Depression. Realizing that we are worth something intrinsically, to say nothing of what we're worth in relation to those who care about us, is a good thing to remember not only for those who are of the materialist bent, but also for those suffering from depression and other ailments. Quark's desire for Garak to kill him is a sort of hilarious spoof on the loss of self that comes with losing physical things.

    It was better than I thought it would be, and though annoying for the first half, gained some momentum as the reality of Quark's situation overtook the silliness. I have to ask though, even if the DS9 guys gave him some furniture, the FCA have banned him from trading. So how does that work? Brunt can just come back and confiscate it again surely, or throw Quark in jail, should such an expensive institution even exist on Ferenginar?

    I love Jammer's note at the end here on individuality.

    The fact that many DS9 characters are outcasts makes the ending scene all the better: in becoming exiled, Quark ironically now has another thing in common with others in his current community. This is a community of misfits -- partially by coincidence, but perhaps also somewhat by design. I've seen analysis elsewhere about how Sisko in particular will always champion the outcasts. He takes Worf on board to support him when he's found himself without a place to return to, even when tensions with the Klingon Empire are at their very worst. He's offers Jadzia his full support when she's ready to stand against her society and face her own exile for the woman she loves. Outside the scope of the space station, he takes a stand against an oppressive society in Paradise; he stands up for Earth's neglected and ignored in Past Tense. He's shaped DS9 into a place inhabited by people of many different species who find their own commonalities: a place ripe for people as disparate as an exiled Cardassian torturer and a self-exiled changeling security chief to find a unique kinship... and a place where, when Quark's stripped of everything he owns, nobody hesitates to help him get back on his feet.

    (Even Garak comes to his aid by conveniently forgetting about the fact that he had a hit out on Quark. Definitely a more sparing use of Garak than we're used to, but he's hilarious in the two scenes he gets.)

    At this point, all three of our main Ferengi characters have now abandoned Ferengi society. Nog's the first one, becoming dedicated to joining Starfleet as a way to be more than his father ever was; this emboldens Rom, who grows a spine and starts a union/quits the bar; finally Quark's been bitten by this bug, and when push comes to shove he takes exile over literally giving his life for the sake of a contract -- and with no small encouragement from Rom, both in real life and in his dream. It's been a hell of a chain reaction to watch play out.

    Hell, going back up to the top of their family tree, Ishka gleefully breaks the gender roles of Ferengi society -- purely by virtue of being the most successful Ferengi of all of them. I wonder if Quark's current predicament will do anything to change how he feels about her shenanigans... though no longer having a legitimate male "breadwinner" to conceal her activities is quite likely going to change things for her. I mean, I have absolutely no doubt that she'll find her way out of things -- she's got the lobes and the latinum for it. But suffice to say, I hope we get to see the followup for her.

    Breaking from Ferengi society was always going to be hardest for Quark, though. Nog seems to have mostly been brought up away from it, and Rom never fit into their mould. It took a life and death situation for Quark to accept being cast out... but he's out now. And that's bound to mean more for him in future.

    I'm not quite sure what to say on the B-story. I loved it while watching, especially the unconventional/nontraditional family dynamic it introduces (I'm almost getting throuple vibes). But now, after having done a bit of reading and a bit of thinking? Yeah, there really isn't much focus on what Kira's thinking or feeling, is there? She just sort of seems to go along with it. She's pregnant now? With someone else's child? No big deal. The O'Briens want her to move in with them? Sure, why not. But I'm all for seeing more of this dynamic, and I found the scene between Keiko and Kira to be really touching. Fingers crossed, we get to see more of what it's like on Kira's side of things.

    Argh. It's a Ferengi-focused episode. Oh joys.

    To be fair, in many ways, it's one of the better ones, though it's still pretty clumsy. In fact, it feels like it was written backwards from the scene where the crew of DS9 club together to save Quark's bar.

    It's also another example of how heavy handed Star Trek tends to be when it comes to alien societies and religion. I suspect this is at least partly due to the need to produce stories which can be syndicated; attempting to examine religious, political or sexual themes through a "human" lens carries far too high a risk of controversy which could lead to American TV networks cancelling the show.

    But the result is always pretty ham-fisted, as the need to cram an entire religious concept - and resolution thereof - into just 20-30 minutes (depending on whether it's a A-plot or B-plot) results in simplistic, one-dimensional stories.

    And that's exactly what happens here. Just as all Bajorans believe in their religion, and all Klingons follow the warrior way, so too do the Ferengi believe in a religion based entirely on money. And... well... it's just all very clumsy and one-dimensional.

    Which isn't to say there's not some entertainment to be derived from this episode. There's the fun of watching Garak kill a virtual Quark in various ways, and the odd B-plot involving Kira becoming magically pregnant - a fairly novel way to work around her real-life pregnancy.

    But in the end, it doesn't quite all gel together. It's a shame they didn't lean more into the "pound of flesh" theme - Brunt's character would have mapped well to Shakespeare's Shylock, and an ending in which Quark managed to turn the tables on him would have been entertaining.

    Similarly, while the ending had definite shades of It's A Wonderful Life, Quark's response to it seemed somewhat flat. It's perhaps appropriate for him to take the "alien" perspective that the people supporting him are "assets", but equally, it would have been nicer for Nog to point out that they're acually his _friends_.

    There's also the question: given how badly Quark has treated the crew of DS9 over the last few years, would they really have clubbed together to support him in this way? Admittedly, the alternative would have been to leave him sitting in the ruins of an empty bar...

    I thought Quark's arc in this episode was pretty clever. He's accused by the Ferengi Commerce Authority of being a parasite, and a "dirty philanthropist" who's been thoroughly "infected by Federation values" and so "threatens to ruin Ferengi society" like a "festering tumor". The Ferengi, who arguably started off as anti-Semitic caricatures, thus get saddled with another anti-Semitic trope; the Jews as parasites who pervert and so collapses whole civilizations!

    As Ross Kraemer notes in his book "Religions of Star Trek": "Ferengi religion seems almost a parody of traditional Judaism. The 285 Rules of Aquisition evoke Judaism's 613 Commandments. Ferengi prohibition against women engaging in business (Ferengi's most culturally valued activity) is reminiscent of traditional exclusion of women from Judaism's most culturally valued activity (the study of the Torah). Both traditions also prohibit autopsy [...] Critics have pointed out a disturbing correlation between Ferengi attributes (love of profit that overrides communal decency, the large nose and sexualized head feature, in this case ears) and negative Jewish stereotypes."

    etc etc.

    So you have some of the ugliest sterotypes embodied by the Ferengi, and you have the key Ferengi characters played by Jewish actors (Rom, Nog, Quark, Grand Nagus etc). The show then slowly turns this trope on its head. For Quark's not a corrupting influence because he's "too greedy", but because he's "too philanthropic", "too nice" and "too Federation".

    Quark, who wants nothing more than to be the perfect Ferengi (he resents his father for being bad at profiteering), thus has an identity crisis. He will do anything to win the praises of the FCA! Even if it means dying on the altar of profit!

    But Quark fails. He has a little existential crisis, loses faith in the scriptural texts that bedrock his hyper-capitalist religion, and turns his back on the FCA. As punishment, he becomes an exile. The episode ends with Quark essentially embracing a new ethos, an ethos embodied by all his friends and buddies on DS9, who work together to restore his bar. The old Quark isn't gone, nor is his love for profit. But those Federation folk on the other side of the aisle are starting to look a little better every day.

    Though interesting, this is still a long-winded and slack episode. Every scene with Quark is a little too verbose, goes on a little too long, clever lines buried under dull ones.

    And while scenes with Kira, Miles and Keiko are good in a sensitive way - Kira is carrying their child, Keiko losing a "piece of her body" as Quark contemplates losing his own organs - there's something a bit silly about Keiko's kid being beamed into Kira's belly. It's a good science fictional idea for a one-off, Bashir-centric episode, not a good idea for an entire season. Better to shunt Nana Visitor, who was pregnant at this time, off to Bajor and have her appear only on view-screens. DS9 has a large cast. It can get by without Kira for half a season. Make it up to her next season with some Kira-heavy episodes.

    Alternatively, use the premise (Kira pregnant) to bring Keiko and Kira together in subsequent episodes. The scenes where they bond together in this episode are very good, and could have been used to tackles themes of friendship and motherhood in subsequent episodes. But instead the show takes the opposite approach; Kira is paired with Miles, who spends all his time giving backrubs and popping inconvenient boners.

    Jammer, I appreciate the site and your (usually) sharp insights. But I don't understand your constant criticism about the Ferengi society ("...a Ferengi caricature, spouting Rules of Acquisition and being greedy just because the guidelines the writers have set down for the Ferengi as a culture demands it.") The Founders are just as one-dimensional (the Solids must be destroyed) but I don't see complaints from you about that.

    I was never keen on the idea of Kira being invited to move in with the O'Briens. Kira's life is already upended enough after what has happened, does she really need to be socially pressured into leaving her own home to move in to someone else's. Way to put out the message that as a baby carrier, her own life is only meaningful as long as it doesn't get in the way of her primary function as a female.

    I know that O'Brien is good at tending to a pregnant woman. Maybe they could have setup that Kira might appreciate that to such a degree that cohabiting to get his care full time is appealing. But that needs to be setup first in order to make it clear what Kira is getting out of this.

    Maybe the real Rules of Acquisition were the friendships we acquired along the way.

    *cries in Ferengi*

    '' I get to sue doctor Orpax''

    ....being a Ferengi doctor sounds like a very volatile business

    Jeffrey Combs!

    Ferengi episodes do little for me, but I'm astonished at what a chameleon Combs can be. I've watched Brunt very closely and absolutely cannot tell it's the same actor as playing Weyoun.

    Why can't Quark just replicate all the stuff to restock his bar? He could make all the furniture and stuff he needs for free.

    >Why can't Quark just replicate all the stuff to restock his bar?

    I've not seen this episode in a while but don't replicator rations cost money? If people could just replicate what ever they want, Quark's bar would be out of business from day 1.

    Replicators don't cost anything.
    1. People don't go to bars because they are the only place to get alcohol (or gamble). You can get alcohol in supermarkets and much cheaper. Still bars exist.
    2. Quark has things that are produced and those can be bought with Latinum.

    But it is still a little shaky. Maybe that is the reason why he constantly hedges schemes. The Feds don't pay.

    I am pretty sure there is an actual economy on DS9, including for Federation personnel. They make it pretty clear in TOS that the crew earn credits, and in VOY there is a lot of talk of sharing replicator rations, which although it's a specific currency given their circumstance, still shows that there are reasons to ration out resources even with replicator technology. The Fed personnel on DS9 must surely have some means of acquiring latinum or some standard currency, or else they wouldn't be able to even buy a jumja stick. The merchants there may accept Federation credits on some exchange rate with other currencies, but either way it means the Fed credit is worth some definite amount on the market, and therefore is part of the general economy (certainly on DS9). Even on Starships we've seen that the crew have personal things, and in one episode (was it Data's Day?) we see people at a public replicator, presumably deciding on what to 'buy' for the wedding.

    So I do think the people that argue DS9/Trek is stupid for claiming this is a post-capital society are not quite taking into account these things. Sometimes people like Jake may take it too far, and indeed some of the writers might have been confused as well. But this is not a society where everyone just gets unlimited amounts of anything they want. It's post scarcity because there is no question of everyone getting food and shelter, or requiring a job to live, but I do imagine that the amount of ration assigned to each person will vary depending on their contribution to society. At the risk of making this sound like a purely communistic centrally-controlled economy, it's not a given that just because ration values are set that they're set directly by the state. Recall that in an economy with rapidly fluctuation currency value, inflation, technology that obsoletes on a decade-by-decade basis, and competition for access to supply, the prices are too vastly complicated for a central agency to determine rationally. But in a post-scarcity economy with sufficient tech, there would really be no reason for the currency value to fluctuate much, nor for the available supply to change overnight for seemingly no reason; nor are there competing nations on a given planet trying to outdo each other in trade. So it could be that the market prices settle 'naturally', or through the efforts of trading guilds, but that these prices end up being fairly stable given their circumstances. If only we had that...

    So when they say they have moved beyond 'money', I sort of think what Trek is hinting at is that they've moved beyond a system where there is benefit in exploiting others; and they've moved beyond either the desire or the possibility to hoard resources and become wealthy. Presumably these credits have baked in characteristics that prevent hoarding or vast accumulation. Also I doubt it's possible to acquire that much more than someone else in the first place (i.e. to have a job that pays 1,000 times more than someone else's). Even the fact of remuneration being fixed at levels close to parity (like within 10x of each other, let's say), with prices unfixed, would result in a very stable system compared to ours. Anyhow, that's my take on it.

    The whole money issue was always a little hazy. This is from Ronald D. Moore who commented, "By the time I joined TNG, Gene had decreed that money most emphatically did NOT exist in the Federation, nor did 'credits' and that was that. Personally, I've always felt this was a bunch of hooey, but it was one of the rules and that's that."

    Riker obviously gets his Latinum from well... to paraphrase Liam Nesson: What Riker does have is a very particular set of skills.

    Yeah, there's what Gene wanted, and there's what actually came to us in various episodes. Canon is some composite of the content we got, plus maybe some percentage of the creator's intention, but with prejudice toward the actual content. If it got into the show, that's that man.

    The whole money issue was always a little hazy. This is from Ronald D. Moore who commented, "By the time I joined TNG, Gene had decreed that money most emphatically did NOT exist in the Federation, nor did 'credits' and that was that. Personally, I've always felt this was a bunch of hooey, but it was one of the rules and that's that."

    I didn't know this but I strongly agree with Moore on this one. It was always one of the most implausible parts of the franchise. Why would anyone be a junior waiter for free? How do Julian and Miles manage to pay for all their trips to the bar and the holosuite?

    I can well believe that if you're in the military, with most of your needs like accommodation and clothing taken care of, money doesn't come up much in conversation. But the idea it wouldn't exist in the wider Federation doesn't make much sense. Yes, replicators might account for some things, but there are lots of things you can't just replicate: e.g. a ground floor apartment in a particular desirable location, or other people's labour. The idea this would be allocated by everyone just being nice to one another rather than currency is more fantasy than sci-fi.

    "Why would anyone be a junior waiter for free?"

    In our society? They probably wouldn't.

    In a post-scarcity society? Where accumulating materials and gaining status serve no purpose? I would imagine because serving people brings them joy, or because such people are needed and there's fulfillment in performing that role. That's not unheard of even from today's workers in the caring and hospitality professions.

    @Tomalak. I agree about the Federation having no money being "always one of the most implausible parts of the franchise".

    I am willing to say that whatever 'no money universe' Roddenberry believed should be projected by Trek, a complex polity like the Federation would be inoperable without a system of values and a medium of exchange. It bursts out from time to time because it has to. According to Memory Alpha, Sisko bought 12 hecapates (areal units) on Bajor to build a retirement home. How did he do it? With currency he had saved up, obviously. In similar fashion, Picard must have bought his Shakespeare folios using some discretionary funds he had squirreled away from his share of the vinyard his mean old brother operated. I never understood (apart from 'indifference to money being futuristic' at least on Earth) why the 'new type' monetary units or credit instruments were never just described as part of this particular future realm... ..after all we have to listen in nauseating detail how the warp plasma is produced in the matter-antimatter reaction chamber unless the injectors get locked up and then there's a core breech unless it's ejected in the nick of time. Who pays the guy who makes the warp coils, who every day receives 6500 orders and then has to cast the verterium cortenide by hand so that it properly encases the core of densified tungsten-cobalt-magnesium? And with what is this payment made? Tribble poop?

    I recommend reading The Dispossessed by Ursula K Le Guin for an example of what a fully non capitalist Society would look like in practice. The only difference is that the planet in the book is resource scarce while Trek is obviously the opposite.

    As for “buying” or “selling”, these could be words that have shed their original meanings and now have the sense of “get” or “obtain”. Or it could be that it’s easier for stressed writers on a deadline to use concepts a 1999 audience already knows instead of taking a 5 minute exhibition break to explain how 24th century economics works.

    Our capitalistic societies are on every level influenced and in many ways ruled by money, imagining a society that works so fundamentally different will always be challenging. I think that is how some "money talk" made it into TNG, even against Roddenberry's explicit wishes. If you take out such a fundamental element of our societies then it will always be difficult to maintain that and as Moore already showed in his comment; Many of the writers of Star Trek neither understood Roddenberry vision nor respected it. DS9 therefore deviated already quite a bit from what Roddenberry wanted. While most of us liked the changes to some degree, to me they signify the beginning of the "normalization" of Star Trek. I think, you can draw a line from DS9 deviations (war crimes, racism, money?) to NuTrek where we have it all on full display. Now there is an underclass on earth while Picard is rich, journalists are openly racist on TV, drug abuse and so on. Did I mention Sarek being pro genocide?

    For 95% or more of Human existence there was no money or private property. Both are fairly modern concepts. That was one of the reasons why 16th-17th explorers often complained that the "primitives" were stealing all the time and were incapable of understanding what they did wrong. For them the rule that "this thing is mine and you cannot have it. Ever." was incomprehensible.

    To highlight the sociological aspect. That is called confirmation bias. Our thinking is build around capitalistic rules, therefore we look for aspects that confirm that Star Trek is like a world we understand and there is only one world we understand, our world.

    @Gorn with the Wind
    Will definitely look into Le Guin. Thanks! ...Especially in view of her parents' anthropological influence.

    Good points. Thanks for bringing to the topic the cultural biases /blinders on the eyes of the explorers when encountering non-Western societies having alternative notions of property.

    This is a bit off-topic, but the more I learn the harder I find this idea to believe that ancient peoples did not understand what property was. The issue about nomadic tribes in North America is that they had certain things that were important and that they valued, and other things they didn't. In other words they had an economy where certain things were at a premium, and this will naturally result in those things being defended. It's not like they didn't care if some other tribe came and tried to take their stuff, their food, and their weapons. That's just nonsense. The notion of property, and especially real estate, being owned "forever" is maybe something that wasn't in their lexicon, but that's not the same thing as saying they didn't have notions of private ownership. I'm sure they did, just as every larger civilization going back to Babylon and even way before that had. What nomadic Neanderthals understood, who knows.

    The notion of money specifically is the use of a currency - an intermediary item that has a known and set value. Any society that employed barter would have had relative ways of understanding the value of a cow versus a bushel of wheat. These things, being always in demand, would have comprised a mixed currency system. That we have reduced it all to a single artificial system of notes is what you might call a technological innovation, but is not fundamentally different from any ancient society other than it using an IOU instead of the thing of value itself as the medium of trade. It's mechanically different, but not different in terms of the notion of "this is mine, I trade it to you." It is definitely not the case that 95% of human history didn't have trading.

    "They", meaning hunter and gatherer civilizations, had in a sense communal property, private property only makes sense for settled people.

    "What nomadic Neanderthals understood, who knows."
    Neanderthals? That is a different species. Humans could study hunter and gatherer societies over the last 200 years.
    If you want to know more.
    (Sahlins is a little mushy but still good, I think. I'm far from an expert on the matter. I have read Mead obviously and a few others but not much more)

    "It is definitely not the case that 95% of human history didn't have trading."
    I said no private property or money. Paleolithic people certainly bartered to some degree.

    @ Booming,

    "I said no private property or money. Paleolithic people certainly bartered to some degree."

    Again, I have a hard time believing there was no value system, even in ancient societies, for trading. Value system = currency exchange = money, just not 'fiat currency', which is an invention of the 20th century. As for private propery, not everyone in history was nomadic. I'm sure there were plenty of stable settlements, like along the Tigris/Euphrates, Nile, etc. That wouldn't have done well having people wandering into each other's bedrooms at night.

    I mentioned Neanderthals just to take it really far back in time. They were apparently genetically compatible with us, and were intelligent. But thanks for taking that statement as some kind of argument requiring refuting... :p

    "Again, I have a hard time believing there was no value system, even in ancient societies, for trading."
    I noticed. :) Maybe read a little about the hunter gatherer societies. It is a fascinating subject.

    "I'm sure there were plenty of stable settlements, like along the Tigris/Euphrates, Nile, etc."
    For the last 15000 years maybe, before that it was 100.000 years of ice age. Humans were spread out and not numerous. Round 70-80.000 years ago homo sapiens was down to a few thousand and almost went extinct. We are all cousins. :)

    "I mentioned Neanderthals just to take it really far back in time"
    They existed until around 35.000 years ago. That's not so far and they were very different. For example metabolism. They basically had to have an all meat diet.

    "This is a bit off-topic, but the more I learn the harder I find this idea to believe that ancient peoples did not understand what property was."

    Yeah, I agree with this and the rest of your post. As a rule, any kind of noble savage portrait of pre-historic man tends to be ideological myth-making. As you say, a barter economy has all the major components as one with currencies too, including the idea that this is my cow etc. It's obviously just going to be less efficient. And there is no suggestion that people in Star Trek operate by barter.

    "Thanks for bringing to the topic the cultural biases /blinders on the eyes of the explorers when encountering non-Western societies having alternative notions of property"

    TBH I would say the view that property rights are just a Western cultural artifact rather than a necessary condition for individual liberty is itself a bias and blinder.

    Property rights are not a Western cultural artifact. But I think that the tendency to see non-westerners as undisciplined is.

    I would add that the early explorers took little time to understand the cultures they encountered and likely exaggerated the notion that native groups (say those in the Americas) knew nothing of private property, precisely in order to justify expropriation.

    "Property rights are not a Western cultural artifact."
    Who said that? Tomalak brought it up but nobody mentioned anything about that and it is the same with noble savage?? Nobody said that.

    "likely exaggerated the notion that native groups (say those in the Americas) knew nothing of private property, precisely in order to justify expropriation."
    Can you back that up with anything? Sometimes I post scientific studies (like the one from Sahlins a few posts above; an eminent professor of anthropology) but I fear that nobody here reads them. So if you have anything substantial, then please share.

    One interesting, early post-contact source is Pablo Joseph de Arriaga, The Extirpation of Idolatry in Peru (1621).

    Mention is made there of huacas (mummy-bundles) some of which are called "personal"...a reminder that the remains of the dead ancestors were a form of private property of great symbolic value. For Andean peoples, the ancestral spirits were linked to inherited land. This system antedated European arrival.

    Early Spanish administrators disrupted the system by compelling all to be done in the so-called 'proper' European mode: that burials be neatly packed into centralized churchyards. The Andean groups retrieved the bodies in order to return them to the widely separated shrine-niches (chullpas) nearer to the cultivated fields so that the symbolic linkage of spirits and the land could be restored to the condition of pre-Columbian times.

    See also Olivia Harris, "The dead and devils among the Bolivian Laymi". In: M. Bloch and J. Parry, (eds.) Death and the Regeneration of Life. Cambridge, 1982, pp. 45-73.

    It’s undeniable that “property” existed throughout ancient human history. But there certainly wasn’t capitalism or private property as we think of it today.

    At one level you had the tribe, where possessions (food, clothing, tools, etc.) are shared as needed with everyone pitching in their labor as they are able. At the family level you have filial property like the mummy-bundles Sigh2000 mentioned, or perhaps deeply personal pieces of art that also have spiritual significance.

    However, once you get above the tribal level, property becomes very personal indeed. You would fight to the death to protect your family relics, your tools, your hides, your fellow humans from being stolen from you.

    If the other tribe is friendly, then there’s barter based on use value. And within the tribe there may be some limited trading or even gambling, but unlike today it’s far from the primary mode of exchange.

    Star Trek to me feels like a grand exaggeration of this ancient model. Everyone in the Federation is part of a single tribe, and while there are personal objects of value (Data’s little hologram of Yar for instance), the necessities of life as well as creature comforts are freely distributed as needed or desired.

    Another important distinction is property vs profit. A society can have trade and personal property without being capitalist, since “capital” is the excess value gained from exploiting another’s labor to your own benefit. (See: Quark’s bar and the Ferengi in general.) Thus, it is perfectly rational for Star Trek to have trade with other powers, and to have personal property, without being the least bit capitalist.

    These are all accounts of settled people. Most settled people have some form of private property. The Incas were to some degree an exception. At least when it comes to land ownership.
    The Arriaga book is interesting. He wrote it to create a handbook for destroying local religious customs and by doing that preserved the knowledge of those local religious customs. Talk about irony. :)

    Your examples as well apply to settled people, not nomadic hunter-gatherer societies.
    If you have to carry literally everything (children, tools, tents, weapons) yourself because there were no pack animals, then carrying trade goods or relics becomes a dangerous luxury. Especially considering that bartering was probably a rare occasion, keep in mind that the number of Humans until the end of the last ice age barely made it past 20.000. Would you carry 5kg/10 pounds of additional stuff around on the off chance that in a year or so somebody from another tribe might want something you have and has something you want? What would that even be? Tools? If you had the time, ability and the will to produce and carry around surplus tools of good quality, then for what would you exchange those?

    "And within the tribe there may be some limited trading or even gambling"
    If there is only communal/tribal property then trading inside the tribe becomes quite impossible. That would be like trading with yourself.

    Sahlins, Stone Age Economics is still a good read although now c. 50 years old. It's full of ideas which would have/may have (?) benefitted the Star Trek writing staff and disparate guest contributors. At the very least, some of them may have 'channeled' his thinking, not knowing the source.

    He cites the fiekdwork of Lee and DeVore (1968) and on the !Kung of the Kalahari and John Marshall's film documentation on the Jul'hoansi. This began to reveal that these marginalized modern hunter-gatherers actually had more spare time than many wage laborers in capitalist society.

    An important idea Sahlins puts forward early in the book is that these groups have a form of affluence without abundance. Pre-anthropological and even early anthropological commenters just such peoples as unfortunates, basically poor.

    @Gorn with the Wind

    I agree with you that Star Trek exaggerates the propertyless quality of its space crews...Data's poignant hologram of Yar being a great example.
    I often think if the small pieces of hard tube luggage they carry when 'on travel' , ample only to accomidate a toothbrush, razor, crumpled yoga pants and a rolled-up paperback (Picard going 'home' to the vinyards).

    @ both Booming; Gorn wt Wind
    He's the nomad/ while older brother Robert is the settled (responsible) person honoring family, tradition, private property and all that. Perhaps then, the ships of Starfleet are all personned in the first place by a segment of society which eschews material acquisition for personal use, signalling and aggrandizement. In the 24th century, this may be a large segment indeed.

    You're all assuming the future should look like what we've known the past and present to be.

    Orson Scott Card wrote in his "How To Write Science Fiction And Fantasy" about sci-fi: "The intrinsic difference between speculative and real-world fiction is that speculative fiction must take place in an unknowable world. At some point, every science fiction and fantasy story must challenge the reader’s experience and learning."

    Unknowable. That means a universe or economy without property doesn't have to obey the rules we've known. And that if we tried to know or understand it, we'd fail, just as people of the distant past would fail to know or understand the rules of our own time.

    I do agree that we don't need to know -- indeed, can't know -- everything about Star Trek's version of the future. Just as there are technological advances, there can be economic advances that can't be fully explained. And if the fact that the Federation doesn't use money were treated as a gesture towards future economics, I expect not many people would complain. It's the fact that it's used as evidence of moral superiority, but with the specifics distinctly hazy, that causes trouble.

    Any society has an economy - how to distribute what there is, and how to assign priority to demand. Even in a post scarcity society they don't have literally infinite resources, even if they do have "enough" for everyone. As has been mentioned, not every person on Earth can have the apartment right on the bay next to Starfleet headquarters. To whatever extent these resources are distributed, the concept of "mine" and "yours" obviously still apply. How one *comes to possess* something is obviously different than in a capitalist society where you own things because you figured out a way to leverage capital. The distribution method is the thing about the Trek world we don't know, and nor should we try to nail down what exactly it is any more than we should worry about how Heisenberg compensators work.

    @ Gorn with the Wind,

    "Everyone in the Federation is part of a single tribe, and while there are personal objects of value (Data’s little hologram of Yar for instance), the necessities of life as well as creature comforts are freely distributed as needed or desired.
    Another important distinction is property vs profit. A society can have trade and personal property without being capitalist, since “capital” is the excess value gained from exploiting another’s labor to your own benefit."

    These two points are not clear to me at all. To the first point, there definitely would have to be some objective way of assigning who can have what and how much of it. It's not the scenario Ayn Rand describes in Atlat Shrugged where people argue their level of need and the authority structure decides ad hoc how much to give and to whom. The Federation's economy, or at least as much of it as we've seen, seems to be more equitable and systematic than that. What exactly the rules are is never said, but it's not a "assign based on need" system unless you count medical aid, which is probably given out freely if I'm guessing. But it seems like scientists, for instance, have to petitiion for resources, just as an example, which would perhaps make it merit-based.

    As to your second point, capitalism can't be define by exploitation, although its framework does certainly allow for it, or even incentivize it. But it's also possible to accumulate capital through one's own work, through discoveries and innovatio, and through organizing others to their own benefit. In other words, it's just a system whereby (a) the law protects capital and its ownership, and (b) each individual is free within the bounds of the law to accumulate capital in any way they are able to figure out how. Beyond that it employs a market system, which any economy so far has done. Don't forget that exploitation is not some new innovation from the industrial age; it's part of any economic system thus far.

    Not sure "unknowable" makes complete sense without adding the word "currently".

    Offering the idea that speculation involves that which is currently unknown, or at least uncertain, (without evidentiary basis) and attempts to model outcomes through extrapolation from some 'known' ( arguing here that our concept of speculation derives from the root 'specula' from mirror which implies a refected image).

    The scifi writer speculates about things which do not currently exist, but might exist in the future or elsewhere dimensionally, or culturally, given the proclivities of different species according to their particular physicalities.

    Trek does seem to model its futures and the cultures operating within those futures by referring to historically known/recognizable societies on the only planet yet known to have such things.

    So you actually have read the book. The text is fairly old, true. Anthropology is not my field and I have no idea if the views on the matter have changed.

    "As to your second point, capitalism can't be define by exploitation, although its framework does certainly allow for it, or even incentivize it."
    Exploitation in that context means that the employer keeps a part of the profit the work of the employees produces. That is exploitation (Cambridge def: the use or development of something for profit or progress in business).


    "Any society has an economy - how to distribute what there is, and how to assign priority to demand. Even in a post scarcity society they don't have literally infinite resources, even if they do have "enough" for everyone. As has been mentioned, not every person on Earth can have the apartment right on the bay next to Starfleet headquarters. To whatever extent these resources are distributed, the concept of "mine" and "yours" obviously still apply. How one *comes to possess* something is obviously different than in a capitalist society where you own things because you figured out a way to leverage capital. The distribution method is the thing about the Trek world we don't know, and nor should we try to nail down what exactly it is any more than we should worry about how Heisenberg compensators work."

    I disagree. This is a universe where it's possible to travel to an enormous range of inhabitable worlds in a minimum of time. Homes can be found in settings just like San Francisco bay and built without expense. In these circumstances I think it's certainly possible for such resources as residential living quarters to be no longer seen or treated in practice as scarce - noting that "scarce" doesn't mean unlimited, just rare or hard to fulfill.

    Don't forget that even experience itself is not scarce. Holodecks make any desired experience possible. Even time isn't in short supply - Picard gets a new body and now people are essentially immortal and death obsolete.

    So if we're saying there must be supply & demand, we're basically telling Roddenberry & Co what they can and cannot write, similar to telling George Lucas that Yoda cannot exist because levitation and "The Force" are impossible.

    The holodecks are interesting in connection with a money-less society.....
    Although the showrunners never explored the idea eey much, holodeck experiences could be the form of payment in Trekian society. The holodecks, after all, are present in all ships larger than a certain size (NB the Equinox didn't have any), so if you're assigned to one if the ones, you get all this great (addictive) "experiential stuff" as the trade-off for having to clean out the warp plasma conduits as your day job.

    Sahlins is still useful as a mine for basic concepts, though superceded in many ways. He was not an archaeologist for one thing, and not an expert in the actual stone age. His specialty was Polynesia of much later eras.

    "Remember *no* Ferengi is a failure who has *friends*. Thanks for the wings! -- Love Clarence."

    I've always thought Armin Shimerman's portrayal of Quark was strong. He's one of those actors (like several others in DS9) whose first appearance was 40 or more years ago and whose career spans decades. IMDB's page for him includes 210 acting credits. As of mid-2022, he's still working steadily in TV, film, and video games. That's staying power driven by talent.

    A really lovely episode, though frustrating. I kept hoping Quark would find some loophole or something to extricate himself from the mess, but it never came. That just made the outcome that much stronger: giving a big F.U. to the system even if it means losing everything but one's dignity. Very pertinent in current times...

    The ending was so, so wholesome and heartwarming. Loved it!

    The B-story (more like Zzz-story) about Mr. and Mrs. Boring. I could write a few lines about how both ludicrous and uninspiring it was, but I'd likely fall into a coma just thinking about it, so I won't.

    Yes, sir, three stars!

    Like others, Iiked the ending. That said it was undercut by a simple solution that was available all along. The contract did not specify that Quark had to die, just that his remains belonged to someone else. With all the things that happened throughout all of the Star Trek series, surely a dead Quark could have been replicated to satisfy the terms of the contract.

    @ Jamie Mann

    The DS9 crew probably looks at Quark the same way you might look at an annoying cousin or uncle; you might not go out your way to spend time with them, but they're still family and you help them when they need it.

    What starts off seemingly as a goofy Ferengi episode actually becomes pretty heavy and a nice character study for Quark; how much of a "true Ferengi" is he?

    He may espouse Ferengi ideals with great pride and it's possible he believes in them to a certain degree. But unlike many of his countrymen, Quark has a stronger tendency than most Ferengi to "succumb" to his better instincts. Indeed, by Ferengi standards he's "too nice." And in a society that pushes profit above all else, that's a huge no no.

    His dream sequence provides more insight. This isn't a vision from beyond, this is Quark's subconscious talking to him. When the imaginary Gint refers to the Rules of Acquisition as merely suggestions, it appears that this is how Quark truly feels about them deep down; good as general guidelines in some areas of life, but not rigid dogma that should apply in every situation.

    With that in mind, Quark ultimately decides he isn't as rigid with Ferengi tradition as much as he lets on. Even at the cost of being rendered destitute, he cannot overcome his instinct for self-preservation.

    Amazing how a comic relief character can actually have depth to him.

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